The newest classical music rising star in St. Louis is ascending nationally and internationally, too.
She’s Gemma New, 29. Named in June to the resident conductor job at the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, the New Zealander takes up her post on Sept. 6.
Her duties include assisting SLSO music director David Robertson and covering concerts. She’s the music director of the St. Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra and the conductor for a variety of education, family and community concerts.
She’s had a busy summer. It included leading statewide parks concerts with the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, covering concerts at the Hollywood Bowl and working with violinist Augustin Hadelich at Maine’s Bowdoin Music Festival, as well as a week in Switzerland.
Her audition for the job, she says, consisted of an interview and working with both the Youth Orchestra and the SLSO, “and just seeing if things clicked.” They did.
New, whose boyfriend, pianist John Wilson, is a fellow with the New World Symphony in Miami, has found an apartment in the Central West End, close to Powell Hall.
Her first concert here is a run-out to Rolla, Mo., where she’ll lead the SLSO in Beethoven’s “Egmont” Overture, Wagner’s “Siegfried Idyll” and Schumann’s Symphony No. 3, “Rhenish.” “That’s a really great way to start with the orchestra,” New declares. “It’s glorious music, really strong orchestral repertoire.”
She won’t get much rehearsal time, though: There’s just one run-through. “Everything will be communicated very clearly and quickly. It will be fresh! Actually, sometimes you can create something quite special. Everybody will be concentrating hard, and that can result in a really exciting concert.”
New says she’s excited about working with the young musicians of the Youth Orchestra. Her programs will mix standard repertoire from different periods with contemporary works.
“One of the great things about the Youth Orchestra is that it’s not just ‘come in and play, and leave at end of rehearsal.’ We want them to understand music from a composer’s aspect, or a soloist’s. We try to make it a holistic experience.”