Covid-free country has new orchestra boss

Covid-free country has new orchestra boss


norman lebrecht

May 13, 2020

Peter Biggs, an advertising man from Melbourne, has been named CEO of the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra.

He was formerly a board member of the Melbourne SO, which might not be the best thing to put on one’s CV given that band’s turbulence.

There were more than 100 applications for the job. NZ is one of the first countries to be Covid-free.

Biggs retired from advertising in 2014 to return to his Kiwi roots.


  • fflambeau says:

    Advertising is also probably not the best thing to put on your CV for music. One wonders who he knows?

  • John Rook says:

    CV-free, but for how long? This thing is not going to disappear.

    • Saxon Broken says:

      They might be able to keep it out of New Zealand. But it will mean banning entry and exit from their country. Otherwise it is just going to get reimported.

  • John wills says:

    What turbulence in MSO?

  • Ramesh Nair says:

    As a long-time attendee of the NZSO, I don’t see any grounds for concern in the professional background of the new NZSO boss. For non-NZ readers of this website, the general management of the major NZ cultural institutions, eg the symphony orchestras, the national ballet, the major museums are usually quite informed culturally in their relevant domains. The immediate past CEOs of the NZSO were a local classical composer, and a classical music academic/conductor. The current board chair of the NZSO is an economist by vocation, but is also a retired classical singer. ( The board appoints the CEO.)

    The major problem with governance in the NZ cultural scene lies in those organisations who in one way or another promote, nurture or fund the various artistic practitioners. A glaring case in point is the sorry state of Radio New Zealand, whose higher management and board are cultural Neanderthals whose artistic knowledge might take second place to even a Trump political appointee. 20+% of Radio New Zealand’s total audience tune into the classical station, and on average each of these listen for longer each day to the classical channel than the average Radio NZ listener to its non-classical music stations. Nonetheless these charlatans of the Radio NZ board and the CEO proposed to reduce Radio NZ’s classical station’s funding to below 7% of the radio budget, and kick it into an AM radio band, while making their favoured ‘youth channel’ the possessor of the FM bands. Luckily this has been scuppered by public outcry.

    PS Yes, NZ has been lucky with the Covid-19 situation. The practice I work in has around 2500 enrolled patients, of whom perhaps 4-5% have been tested for Covid-19. So far, all have tested negative.

  • Fiddlist says:

    NZ is not “Covid-free” by any means. Zero new cases for three days in a row does not equate to “Covid-free “.

    As of today, there are 56 active cases in total in NZ, and there was one new case announced today.

    A good situation to be in, but please don’t curse it by saying “free.”