This week we caught up with HPO Music Director Gemma New and compiled answers to your top 5 questions. Curious about the life of a professional conductor? Why is Gemma looking forward to working in Hamilton? Find the answers to your questions and more below.

We look forward to welcoming Gemma to Hamilton and to the HPO on February 6 as Gemma Conducts Shostakovich.

Welcome to Hamilton! What are you looking forward to seeing or doing in the city?
Firstly I want to meet as many Hamiltonians as possible, get to know what they do in Hamilton and what their musical interests are. I am looking forward to attending the Supercrawl, and getting to know the vibrant arts and culinary scene in Hamilton. I also want to explore the many trails in the area.

What can you tell us about the life of a conductor?
I travel often to many interesting places around the world, performing wonderful music, with all kinds of amazing people. Sometimes it can be hard to separate ‘life’ from the ‘job’ as a conducting career is very time consuming, but I do try to find a balance.

You’ve worked with a lot of international conductors. Who left a big impression on you?
Gustavo Dudamel’s musicianship and leadership is phenomenal. He has the busiest schedule I’ve ever seen (in the 5 weeks I assisted him, he conducted eight different programs) yet he is always able to create a focused, inspiring and congenial atmosphere in rehearsal and concert. He has an innate sense of the music, conducting it all by memory, and he has an incredibly natural and subtle conducting technique. He also has a great sense of humor!

What stuck in your mind about your first experience with the HPO?
I remember being impressed by the HPO’s artistic level, and the pro-activeness of both players and staff. The healthy relationships between the board, management, musicians and audience also became strongly apparent throughout the week – not all orchestras have this!

Lastly, what is the biggest problem facing classical music?
Music education is often being pushed to the side in schools. Every young person needs the opportunity to learn an instrument and play in an orchestra or band. It is immeasurably valuable to have classical music in our lives, and to learn an instrument. We learn work ethic, focus and concentration, attention to detail, teamwork, appreciating and listening to others, and having a means of expressing ourselves in a creative way. No matter what career one moves onto when they get older, classical music appreciation needs to be a more integrated part of our education and society.