Symphony Nova Scotia announces two finalists for key Music Director position

May 7, 2019

Halifax, NS – After a rigorous three-year international search,Symphony Nova Scotia is delighted to announce two finalist candidates for its artistic leadership position of Music Director: Québec-based Jean-Michel Malouf and New Zealand-born Holly Mathieson.

New Zealand-born Holly Mathieson was until recently Assistant Conductor at the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, and has conducted orchestras throughout the U.K. and New Zealand, including the London Symphony, BBC Concert, and Royal Philharmonic. Her conducting has been acclaimed as “particularly adept” (Seen and Heard) with “clarity and elegance in all circumstances” (Classical Source). Holly holds a PhD in Music Iconography, and in 2016, she was named one of New Zealand’s Top 50 Women of Achievement.

Holly Mathieson will conduct Symphony Nova Scotia on November 7, 2019 in Melody and Poetry with Rebecca Thomas.


Jean-Michel Malouf is a flourishing Canadian conductor, currently based in Montreal. His previous roles include leadership positions with I Musici, the Thunder Bay Symphony Orchestra, and Orchestre symphonique du Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean. He’s been praised as an “attentive and enthusiastic” leader (Ottawa Citizen) who conducts with “dynamism and creativity” (Néomédia). Jean-Michel is also an accomplished trombonist, and takes an active role in mentoring young musicians through camps, outreach, education, and youth ensembles.

Jean-Michel Malouf will next appear with Symphony Nova Scotia on November 21, 2019 in Mr. and Mrs. Schumann.


A third finalist candidate was originally scheduled to conduct Symphony Nova Scotia’s October 24 Strauss and Sibelius concert, but has recently withdrawn from the search due to personal reasons. Instead, Symphony Nova Scotia’s Music Director Laureate Bernhard Gueller will conduct the October 24 concert; Symphony Nova Scotia is grateful to Maestro Gueller for fitting this concert into his busy schedule on short notice.

Symphony Nova Scotia’s Music Director Search has been ongoing since 2016, and follows on the highly successful 16-year tenure of the German-born Maestro Gueller, a favourite among audience members and musicians alike.

The search for Gueller’s replacement has been led by a dedicated Search Committee, chaired by Halifax business consultant Cynthia Robertson. The Committee has reviewed hundreds of candidates from across Canada and around the world, and developed a rigorous search process that includes at least two separate appearances conducting the orchestra in Halifax.

“We were very excited by the quality of the candidates for this position, and have invited a number of talented conductors to lead the orchestra,” says Robertson.

“Following each concert, members of the orchestra, audience members, the search committee, and board members were invited to participate in an integrated evaluation process. This feedback has proven to be highly valuable in understanding the strengths of each of these outstanding candidates, and selecting a shortlist to return in 2019.”

The two finalist candidates will both return to conduct concerts on Symphony Nova Scotia’s flagship Masterworks series in November 2019. Each candidate’s time in Halifax will include in-depth sessions with musicians, stakeholders, and community members, and Symphony Nova Scotia will welcome and carefully consider a broad range of perspectives before announcing the final appointment in early 2020. The new Music Director will fully assume the role for the 2020/21 concert season.

The roles and responsibilities of Symphony Nova Scotia’s Music Director include providing key artistic leadership, conducting a significant portion of each concert season, supporting orchestra administration, and spearheading stakeholder and community engagement. The successful finalist will also create great musical experiences, enhance the orchestra’s artistic excellence, inspire and engage audiences, and embrace Nova Scotia’s rich cultural community.

The Music Director will join an already-vibrant artistic leadership team at Symphony Nova Scotia, which currently includes Bernhard Gueller, Music Director Laureate; Daniel Bartholomew-Poyser, Artist in Residence and Community Ambassador; and Jeanne Lamon, Principal Baroque Leader. Other current leadership at Symphony Nova Scotia includes Gail Morris, Chair of the Board of Directors, and Christopher Wilkinson, Chief Executive Officer.

To learn more about Symphony Nova Scotia’s orchestra and leadership team, click here. For more information about the Music Director Search and position, click here.


Symphony Nova Scotia is Nova Scotia’s orchestra. With a home base in Halifax and performances across the province, Symphony Nova Scotia is proud to be a vibrant, vital part of Nova Scotia’s rich cultural community. From sold-out orchestral concerts to free family events, youth and seniors’ activities, and educational partnerships, Symphony Nova Scotia creates unforgettable experiences with truly great music. Visit to learn more, listen online, or get tickets today!