The NZSO is a national touring orchestra of world class standard committed to enriching the classical music world through leading edge performances of both new music and core symphonic repertoire.
This versatile orchestra has worked with many renowned conductors and soloists to critical acclaim, including Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, Lang Lang, Håkan Hardenburger, Howard Shore, Natalie Clein, Vladmir Ashkenaky, and Dmitri Sitkovetsky.
In addition to a very busy concert and touring schedule, the NZSO is New Zealand's premiere recording orchestra, selling over half a million CDs internationally.
"Every single member of our team that worked with you at the Michael Fowler Centre, were completely in awe of the artistry, passion and professionalism demonstrated by the NZSO. As a Kiwi, I am very proud that we have a national orchestra of such high calibre." Peter Jackson – Director.
Conductor Hamish McKeich is widely regarded as a rising conducting star in New Zealand and Australia. He works with all the major orchestras in New Zealand and conducts regularly in Australia and Europe. He was Associate Conductor of the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra (NZSO) for more than three years and is currently Chief Conductor of the contemporary ensembles Stroma and 175East. He is also sought after by contemporary/pop/jazz artists for orchestral collaborations.
His recent engagements include the Metropole Orkest of the Netherlands Radio, Melbourne Symphony, APO and a sold out Stroma concert for the 2006 New Zealand International Festival of the Arts. He devised, music directed, and conducted the acclaimed nationwide tour of jazz legend Marlena Shaw with the NZSO and Nathan Haines.
Hamish McKeich studied conducting with world renowned teacher Ilya Musin and also prominent conductors Valery Gergiev, Sian Edwards, and Peter Eōtvōs. He was a participant in the 1996 Kirill Kondrashin International Conducting Masterclass in Hilversum, Holland, and was also a finalist of the Gergiev Festival Conductors Masterclass, under the guidance of Professor Ilya Musin and Valery Gergiev.
In 2004, his CD Wild Music (recorded with the NZSO) reached number 1 in the classical charts. He also conducts the NZSO on Nathan Haines' 2005 CD Life Time.
Few professional opera singers can claim so diverse a repertoire as Deborah Wai Kapohe, M.Mus (Distinction), BA, LRSM. Recognised as New Zealand’s most promising soprano, Deborah is also highly regarded as a contemporary singer/songwriter and guitarist. Her songwriting has encompassed writing a commissioned work for the Southern Sinfonia in Dunedin, a national tour performing her own music with Arts on Tour New Zealand, and three CDs of her own compositions.
Born in Southland, she has performed in operas, musicals, contemporary Māori music events, arts festivals, proms, concerts, and recitals in New Zealand, Australia, the United Kingdom, China, and South Africa.
She has played many traditional operatic roles, including Pamina in The Magic Flute, Mimi in La Boheme, Rosalinde in Die Fledermaus, Sophie in Massenet’s Werther, Adalgisa in Norma, Nannetta in Falstaff, Cherubino in The Marriage of Figaro, Leila in The Pearl Fishers, Marguerite in Faust, and most recently the role of Carmen.
She has sung for The Duke of Edinburgh World Fellows at St James Palace and at the Cathcart Spring proms at the Royal Albert Hall, London; with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra at the Sydney Olympic Arts Festival; and at National Anthems at Jade Stadium and for Royalty at Huka Lodge in New Zealand.
Derek Hill completed his university studies in Canada and since his return to New Zealand has been contracted by virtually every opera company in the country. He is currently a resident artist of NBR Opera New Zealand, for whom he appeared as Normanno in the NZI Winter Season of Lucia di Lammermoor in 2007, and earlier as Priest/Armed Man in The Magic Flute, and as Gastone de Letoriéres in La Traviata. He has also worked with The Hamilton Garden Opera, Canterbury Opera, and Otago Opera performing a variety of works from Salieri to Puccini. In March he will be performing the role of Gonzalve in L'heure espagnole with Southern Opera. Derek currently studies with renowned New Zealand tenor Patrick Power.
Mere Tokorahi Boynton is a Māori singer and actor of Te Aitanga ā Māhaki, Ngāti Oneone, and Tūhoe descent.
She has had formal training in voice at the Conservatorium of Music in Wellington, but her desire to sing in te reo Māori and her extensive experience in Māori performing arts and music has allowed her to develop a style that draws on both her classical training and her taha Māori.
Some of her most memorable singing engagements include performing in Gareth Farr's Te Papa composed specifically for the opening of Te Papa Tongarewa (Museum of New Zealand) in Wellington; singing and touring nationwide in the dance opera Jerusalem by Michael Parmenter; singing in Te Rangimarie composed for the Gisborne millennium celebrations and featuring Kiri Te Kanawa; performing the role of Frasquita in Bizet's opera Carmen; and singing in the acclaimed movie Te Tangata Whai Rawa o Weneti (The Māori Merchant of Venice).
More recently, Mere has performed in the Māori music and dance spectacular Maui in the title role of Taranga. In 2005, she launched her debut CD Waikohu (The Mist), an eclectic range of compositions which have been given different vocal and musical treatments, from kapahaka style to classical string quartet with karanga (call). In 2006, she travelled with Mau Dance Company to perform in Requiem, a work commissioned by the Mozart Festival in Vienna and Belgium.
Mere is a member of Ipurangi, a collective of some of New Zealand’s leading taonga puoro (traditional Māori musical instruments) exponents and vocalists. She is currently working on The Trial of the Cannibal Dog, an exciting New Zealand opera commissioned by the New Zealand International Festival of the Arts for 2008.
Whirimako Black's distinctive sound, her lyrics in te reo Māori, her use of traditional Māori musical forms and collaboration with traditional taonga puoro (traditional Māori musical instruments) make her a unique and powerful voice for Māori music and culture.
Whirimako, of Ngāi Tūhoe, Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Ngāti Ranginui, Ngāti Kahungunu, Te Whakatōhea, Te Whānau-a-Apanui, Te Arawa, and Ngāti Awa descent, has performed throughout the country over the past decade. She has studied towards a Certificate of Musicianship Theory at the Sydney School of Music in Australia and taught music composition at numerous workshops.
Her musical achievements include composing and singing the titles for the acclaimed TVNZ series The New Zealand Wars and composing (with Hori Tait) the initial title music for the Māori news programme Te Karere.
In 1991, she formed the female Māori band Tuahine Whakairo, before leaving in 1993 to start a solo career. She now has six albums to her credit. Soul Sessions, featuring eleven jazz standards, was the top-selling New Zealand jazz album of 2006 and spent five weeks in the New Zealand Top 40 Chart.