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NZSO appoints Hamish McKeich as Principal Conductor in Residence

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Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

New Zealander Hamish McKeich will have a new role in 2020 with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra as Principal Conductor in Residence.

Maestro McKeich has had an acclaimed partnership with the Orchestra for two decades and served as NZSO Associate Conductor since 2002.

The new role will see Maestro McKeich working with the NZSO to reach more communities around the country, presenting great classical works in concert halls, as well as bringing orchestral music to non-traditional venues, including music by contemporary and New Zealand composers.

"Hamish McKeich already has a long and fruitful association with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra. He is respected and admired by our players, many guest soloists, numerous composers and fellow conductors," says NZSO Chief Executive Christopher Blake.

"This appointment extends our partnership with Hamish and it will be an exciting time for both the Orchestra and our audiences."

With the NZSO Maestro McKeich has conducted works by classical giants Brahms, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Prokofiev and more. He has also excelled at collaborations with a wide variety of musicians, including New Zealand band The Phoenix Foundation last year, for the NZSO to reach new audiences.

His NZSO soundtrack performances in screenings of cinema classics, including Star Wars: A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back, have been a hit and introduced many people to the Orchestra.

Over the past two years the NZSO’s innovative and critically-acclaimed Shed Series under the direction of Maestro McKeich has redefined how the Orchestra can present works and interact with audiences beyond the concert hall. He will continue the Shed Series in 2020, including performances for the first time in Auckland.

"It’s truly an honour to be able to cement my relationship further with the NZSO," says Maestro McKeich.

"For 15 or so years we have given many wonderful performances and looked to extend the various ways orchestral music is presented to the New Zealand public. I’m looking forward to continuing the high level performances and future innovative projects."

Maestro McKeich has forged a diverse international conducting career alongside a passionate loyalty for developing the repertoire of contemporary and experimental music. He has performed in Australia, China, the Netherlands, Italy, England, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, France, Armenia and Lebanon. Working regularly in Europe, and with major orchestras in New Zealand and Australia, he has given over 100 world premieres of new works and is also chief conductor, founder and co-director of New Zealand contemporary ensemble Stroma and Principal Conductor of the Royal New Zealand Ballet.

Maestro McKeich, from Christchurch and based in Wellington, studied conducting with legendary teacher and pedagogue Professor Ilya Musin and also prominent conductors Valery Gergiev, Sian Edwards and Peter Eötvös. He was a finalist of the Gergiev Festival Conductors Masterclass, under the guidance of Professor Musin and Maestro Gergiev. He started his career as bassoonist and at aged 19 became Associate Principal Bassoon with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra and thereafter working with orchestras in Britain and The Netherlands. In 2012 Hamish McKeich was awarded a Douglas Lilburn Trust citation for services to New Zealand music.

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