Holly Mathieson, Music Director
New Zealand-born Holly Mathieson is an award-winning conductor, regularly working with opera houses, ballet companies, and orchestras in Europe, Australasia, and North America. She is the Music Director of Symphony Nova Scotia, in Canada, a partnership that is attracting acclaim for its bold programming, strategic acumen, and championing of local artists from diverse musical backgrounds. She frequently records for BBC Radio 3 and CBC, and her first major commercial recording with Decca, a collaboration with Isata Kanneh-Mason and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, reached #1 on the UK classical charts. Her work has seen her travel to nearly every continent on the planet, and perform for audiences spanning from the British Royal Family and Europe’s political elites, to Scotland’s homeless and refugee communities. In addition to her conducting work, Holly is on the Board of Directors for London-based opera company formidAbility, an opera company pioneering the commissioning and producing of opera with accessibility at the foundation of the creative process, and Artist-in-Association at English Touring Opera.
A passionate communicator, with crystalline technique and a collaborative approach, she has won plaudits in all forms of music direction from opera, ballet, and family concerts, to full-scale symphonic programmes. In recent seasons, she conducted the Prague Radio Symphony, London Symphony, Philharmonia, NZ Symphony, Royal Philharmonic, City of Birmingham Symphony, London Philharmonic, Auckland Philharmonia, and Scottish Chamber Orchestras, as well as most of the BBC Orchestras. In the theatre, she has worked with Danish Royal Ballet, Opera North, Scottish Ballet, Scottish Opera, English Touring Opera, and New Zealand Opera. Recording and broadcasting credits include the Philharmonia Orchestra, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, and Opera North.
2018 saw the inaugural tour of the innovative Nevis Ensemble, of which she was founding co-Artistic Director with husband Jon Hargreaves until the organization expanded in 2022, a project built on the maxim that “music is for everyone, everywhere”. In the first two years of their joint tenure, the orchestra gave 170 free performances to around 25,500 people all across Scotland, from farming communities in the Scottish Borders to the summit of Ben Nevis in the Highlands, and including the most comprehensive tour of the Outer Hebrides by an orchestra, which even saw the ensemble perform on Hirta, in the remote archipelago of St. Kilda.
She is a frequent contributor and guest speaker for various industry podcasts and blogs, has been invited as a guest teacher and examiner at most of the UK’s top conservatoires, and in summer 2019 launched a blog, Scordatura, which explores ideas around digital developments, musical culture, advocacy, and arts governance. She is an alumna of the Sasakawa Youth Leadership Fellowship, was a Taki Alsop Conducting Fellowship Prizewinner in 2013, and has a PhD in Music Iconography. In 2016, Zonta New Zealand named her one of New Zealand’s Top 50 Women of Achievement.
GET TO KNOW HOLLY!
Have you ever tried a donair? Who is your favourite living conductor? How do you go about learning a piece you’re going to conduct? Holly answers these questions and more as we get to know what makes our Music Director tick!
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