Holly Mathieson


New Zealand-born Holly Mathieson is currently Assistant Conductor at the RSNO (2016-18), Resident Conductor of the National Youth Orchestra of Scotland Junior Orchestra, and has guest engagements across NZ, the UK and America. In the current season, these include concerts with the London Symphony Orchestra, RSNO, Kensington Symphony Orchestra, Farnborough Symphony Orchestra, Covent Garden Chamber Orchestra and Corinthian Chamber Orchestra, a tour with Scottish Ballet, and a trial as music director of the Illinois Philharmonic. Forthcoming projects include a commercial recording of works by John McLeod with Dame Evelyn Glennie and the RSNO, and concerts with London’s Southbank Sinfonia and Salomon Orchestra.

Highlights of recent seasons include holding one of the world's most prestigious fellowships for young conductors, the Leverhulme Fellowship at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland; a a critically acclaimed London debut as the 2015 Christine Collins Young Artist Conductor in Associate at Opera Holland Park; debuts with Southbank Sinfonia and the Auckland Philharmonia; working as assistant conductor with Opera North, Garsington Opera and Longborough Festival Opera; and making the finals in the competition for assistant conductor, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France.

In the past, she has assisted Esa-Pekka Salonen and Christoph von Dohnanyi at the Philharmonia Orchestra (London), Donald Runnicles at the BBCSSO, and Marin Alsop at the BBC Proms. 2013 saw success in being chosen as one of four young conductors from around the world to participate in the Interaktion Dirigentenwerkstatt des Kritischen Orchesters with players from the Berlin Philharmonic and other German orchestras, and a place as one of Dartington International Summer School's advanced conducting fellows. She was immediately reinvited to Dartington in 2014 as a guest conductor.

Awards for Holly's work include a 2013 Professional Development Grant from Creative NZ, the 2012 AMP Regional Scholarship from Roost Mortgages, the 2009 Patronage Award from Adrienne, Lady Stewart and the NZ Arts Foundation, and the Elman Poole Travelling Scholarship (2006). Holly was named a Ryoichi Sasakawa Young Leaders Fellow in 2008. She was also given a high commendation in the 2013 Taki Concordia Fellowship. In 2016, Zonta NZ named her as one of New Zealand's Top 50 Women of Achievement.

Holly holds a PhD in Music Iconography, entitled "Embodying Music: The Visuality of Three Iconic Conductors in London, 1840-1940" and a MusBHons(1st class) in composition and analyisis from Otago University, and an MMus in orchestral conducting from the University of Melbourne Conservatorium. She has published papers in Music in Art, and been invited to present papers at conferences in London, New York and New Zealand. An online copy of the Doctoral dissertation is available here. ​


2016 Zonta NZ, Top 50 NZ Women of Achievement

2014 Leverhulme Conducting Fellow, Royal Conservatoire of Scotland

2013 Creative NZ professional development grant

2012 AMP and Roost Mortgage Scholarship winner

2009 Adrienne, Lady Stewart and the NZ Arts Foundation

2008 Ryoichi Sasakawa Young Leaders Fellowship​

2005-2007 Humanities Postgraduate Scholarship​

2006 Elman Poole Travelling Scholarship

2003 University of Melbourne Postgraduate Prize in Music

2002 Mona Semke Scholarship (Rotary)

2000 University of Otago J.M.W. Speirs Memorial Prize, Most Promising Conducting Student




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Opus Orchestra offers sublime experience
2016-09-17 www.stuff.co.nz, Hamilton
"The auditorium was virtually full, and so it should have been. Here were three musicians with growing international reputations backed by Opus Orchestra, an ensemble growing in strength and stature, playing glorious music ... This music was not only beautiful and accessible, it was played with such verve, such panache, such virtuosity, that while some prior knowledge may have been interesting for some, this experience was universal. The significant single element was conductor Mathieson's clarity and elegance in the way the orchestra was led to interpret and present what was, more than anything else, an evening of extraordinary musical images. Mozart's Symphony No.25 in G minor began with a perfectly executed Allegro con brio in which there was brio to burn and an haunting oboe asking moody and moving questions of the brio. Heard it before? Not like this, you haven't. Mathieson seemed to have an unusually perceptive understanding of the musical imagery in the Mozart, perhaps most particularly in the Menuetto and Trio  and this understanding was even more obvious in Eve de Castro-Robinson'sReleasing the Angel, a recent and evocative composition filled with visual poetry and musical exploration. Edward King's cello, so responsive to Mathieson's informed guidance, was spell binding, even when it was in competition with a carefully tuned, finger sensitised crystal glass, and while one has access to other interpretations, tonight King released the angel in the cello ... I am quite lost for words."
(Sam Edwards)
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Holly Mathieson Conjures Up Atmospheric Lakmé in Holland Park
2015-07-29 Seen and Heard International, Opera Holland Park, London, United Kingdom
""... [I]f there was an atmosphere conjured up it was mainly due to the efforts of the orchestra under the excellent New Zealand conductor Holly Mathieson. Her gestures were impeccably clear and yet expressive, and the orchestra responded impressively to her way with the score. She naturally feels just the right amount of give and take, enabling the music to flow. The orchestra needs to be extremely flexible to avoid exuding a sort of generalist Gallic feel, and Mathieson was particularly adept at isolating the central feel of a particular section, or following the unfolding drama naturally.""
(Colin Clark)
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