Maestro move (1): Kiwis land big-name conductor

Maestro move (1): Kiwis land big-name conductor


norman lebrecht

June 29, 2015

He used to be talked of as the next music director of the Concertgebouw and the Boston Symphony. Now, it’s all going south.

As of March 2016, Edo de Waart will be music director of the world’s most remote concert organisation, the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra.

Edo, 74, has been music director successively of the San Francisco Symphony, the Minnesota Orch and the Sydeny Symphony. He has usually held two or three jobs at once. He is presently music director in Milwaukee and at the Royal Flemish Philharmonic, both of which will end in 2016-17.

In New Zealand he has an opportunity to leave a real legacy. He is by far the highest calibre conductor they have landed.

edo de waart

More maestro moves shortly.


press release:

The New Zealand Symphony Orchestra is delighted to announce that esteemed Dutch conductor Edo de Waart will assume the role ofNZSO Music Director from 2016.


NZSO Chief Executive, Christopher Blake says: “Maestro Edo de Waart is a well regarded and acclaimed conductor working at the highest level internationally. He has a prolific and illustrious conducting career spanning five decades and he has worked with some of the world’s leading orchestras including the Royal Concertgebouw, Berlin Philharmonic, Metropolitan Opera, Los Angeles Philharmonic, and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.


“The NZSO is delighted to begin its exciting new artistic relationship with Maestro de Waart and be part of his enduring contribution to the world of music making. We look forward to presenting more exhilarating orchestral music under his distinguished leadership in future Seasons.”


Edo de Waart will begin his tenure with the NZSO next March when he conducts Mahler’s masterwork Symphony No. 3. He will then take Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3 ‘Eroica’ and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 on his inaugural tour as Music Director to eight centres around the country. Concertgoers can expect to hear some of the world’s most compelling orchestral works by composers such as Beethoven, Mahler, Mozart and Strauss in future NZSO Seasons, hand-picked from de Waart’s extensive repertoire.


Edo de Waart is currently Chief Conductor of the Royal Flemish Philharmonic, Music Director of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, and Conductor Laureate of the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra. He has previously been Music Director of the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony, Minnesota Orchestra, Sydney Symphony and Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra. He was also Chief Conductor of De Nederlandse Opera.

Maestro Edo de Waart says: “I am delighted to deepen my artistic relationship with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra – an orchestra I have come to know well over the years. We share a common bond – a mutual love and respect for excellent music-making and a desire to share this spirit with all New Zealanders. We want to give New Zealanders the opportunity to have unforgettable musical experiences.”


  • Petros LInardos says:

    Why did de Waart’s career decline?

  • George says:

    It didn’t.

  • Gerard says:

    Original way to begin as Music Director: Mahler 3, Beethoven 3+5. The typical lazy way of programming…boring!

  • Robert Levine says:

    I think this is a wonderful move by the NZSO, and a very good fit for both them and de Waart.

  • Chris in New York says:

    I cherish the memories of de Waart’s years with the Minnesota Orchestra, where his skills as an orchestra builder were on full display. In his sturdy, non-showy way, he helped lay the foundation on which Osmo Vänskä stands. And Minnesota is not alone. The orchestras of Rotterdam, San Francisco, Sydney, Hong Kong, Milwaukee and Antwerp (as well as the excellent Netherlands Radio Philharmonic) also owe him much. De Waart has improved every orchestra he has led — and that’s on four continents. That is a claim few conductors can make.

  • TI says:

    It is fantastic news for the NZSO. He did a majestic Mahler 9 with the NZSO last year and (uncharacteristically) also gave a broad interview to the local paper.

  • sceenname says:

    Where’s Sydeny?

  • Duncan McLennan says:

    “Highest calibre conductor they have landed”? Perhaps. But I recall the leadership of James Judd, who transformed a once-mediocre orchestra into a very good international-class ensemble which filled the Musikverein and who conducted some very well-reviewed recordings on the Naxos label. The pity was that Judd arrived in New Zealand without fanfare, accomplished a miracle, and left without the plaudits due after his contract ended. He deserved better. Nevertheless I wish de Waart well. The initial programmes announced reflect well the current local musical tastes (or lack of them). I cringe when I go to concerts featuring such outrageous modernists as Bruckner and Shostakovich and find myself in a half-empty hall.

    • Antonie says:

      1) Judd did a lot with the orchestra, but to say that the NZSO was ‘mediocre’ before Judd is extraordinary.

      2) ‘current local musical tastes’. What a trial for you, to live surrounded by philistines….

      • Matt says:

        I studies in Austria before James Judd began his tenure with NZSO and our national orchestra was considered a joke by members of the Vienna Phil. They litetally laughed about how poor the quality was. That was in the late 90s.

        James Judd was awarded an honorary doctorate by Waikato a few years back. I wouldn’t say he left entirely without the plaudits due.

    • TI says:

      James Judd was good but before him Franz-Paul Decker was extraordinary. Wagner in concert for the first time, amazing Bruckner and solid renditions of Beethoven (even though he hated it).

      Radio New Zedaland did an excellent retrospective in 2013 about that period which is worth listening to.

      The Auckland Town Hall was close to full when the NZSO last did Shostakovich – the 15th under Alexander Lazarev in May last year. Glorious concert !

  • Duncan McLennan says:

    The NZSO before Judd, and in its original guise as the National Orchestra of the NZBC, WAS mediocre by world standards. Except in concerts in the early 1960s when Josef Krips and Igor Stravinsky/Robert Craft guest-conducted. Then they were magic. I acknowledge the contribution of Decker – he certainly raised standards, doing a splendid Bruckner 8 to an Auckland audience of 181 and a fine concert version of Rheingold to 126. I counted them during the quieter moments. Yoel Levi (in the Judd era) did better by attracting a nearly half-filled hall to the best performance of Shostakovich 11 I have heard. The Judd/NZSO/Naxos recording of Antill’s Corroboree is one of the best orchestral recordings of anything, anywhere. And few would regard the University of Waikato as being in the top rank of NZ academia – Kiri te Kanawa’s Hon DMus from the University of Auckland carries more prestige, and the miracle is that the powers that be saw fit to ennoble her and Donald McIntyre, along with the usual bag of NZ rugby icons and financial supporters of the ruling political party. At least a CBE or equivalent for James Judd would not have been inappropriate or undeserved.

    Edo de Waart will soon learn that in NZ he is more likely to be duly appreciated if he can lock a good scrum or cross-bat Mitchell Johnson’s best yorkers for six. Until then he will languish with the many fine musicians, authors, and artists whose only reward is personal satisfaction (and an international reputation). Did someone mention Philistines?