Soloists & Conductors

Conductors and Soloists for our 2019 Concert Series

Michael Joel – Conductor and Musical Director of SMCO

New Zealand-born conductor, Michael Joel studied at Otago University where he completed an Honours degree in conducting. After graduating he studied with conductors Heinz Wallberg, Miguel Harth-Bedoya, Jac van Steen, and at the Dartington International Summer School.

Equally at home in the orchestral, choral and operatic repertoire, Michael has conducted extensively throughout New Zealand and, since relocating to London in early 2014, at The Royal Opera House, assisting Alexander Joel, Dan Ettinger, Placido Domingo, Oleg Caetani and Marc Minkowski.

He has conducted many of the established orchestras and companies in New Zealand – Christchurch Symphony Orchestra, the Southern Sinfonia, St Matthew’s Chamber Orchestra, Opera Otago, the City of Dunedin Choir, NZSO National Youth Orchestra and, prior to relocating to London, principals and members of the NZSO and NZ String Quartet in a critically acclaimed performance of Mahler’s 4th Symphony.

Michael was Music and Development Officer, Chorus Master and Assistant Conductor at Canterbury Opera. During his tenure he conducted Lakmé , Rusalka, Comte Ory, La traviata and the world premiere of Jonathan Besser’s “work in progress”, commissioned by Canterbury Opera. In August 2006 he conducted a highly successful production of Die Fledermaus for Opera Hawke’s Bay.

Michael is currently Music Director of St Matthews Chamber Orchestra and has recently freelanced with the music staff at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden as duty conductor on productions of Carmen, Tosca, La Bohème and La Traviata. He also assisted with the music preparation and children’s chorus for Carmen and La Bohème.

Michael is also an accomplished violist and teacher, working and living in London.

David Sharp – Conductor

David Sharp was awarded a Bachelor of Music Performance with Honours in Conducting from The University of Adelaide in 1995. Since graduating he has conducted many of the major Symphony Orchestras of Australia, appeared on television, film and radio, and conducted orchestras overseas.

Since 2005 David has taken an increasingly major role with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra. He is the conductor and director of the ASO’s highly successful Tea and Symphony concert series and has conducted the orchestra’s East End Rush Hour Concert Series, including world premieres of works by John Polglase and Calvin Bowman. He has also conducted Family concerts, regional tours, and the very popular ASO Alfresco concerts at Mt Lofty Botanic Gardens and Monarto.

David enjoys working with young people, conducting a number of Education projects for the ASO and performing engagements with the Adelaide Youth Orchestra and the Elder Conservatorium Symphony Orchestra.

Sam Jacobs – French Horn

Samuel Jacobs is the Principal horn of the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, having returned after spending three years as Principal horn of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in London. While in the UK, Samuel’s freelance work included performing as guest Principal horn with most of the leading symphony orchestras, whilst in this hemisphere Samuel frequently works as guest Principal horn with the Sydney and Melbourne Symphony Orchestras, and took part in the epic project of the 2016 Ring cycle in Melbourne on Principal horn.

Samuel has made numerous commercial recordings for the film and pop industries, including albums with Sting, Sam Smith and Florence & the Machine, and soundtracks for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, Interstellar, The Martian and the latest Bond film Spectre, as well as scores for television and video games, including the Halo franchise. Samuel has also recorded on the LSO Live label and on numerous live BBC Radio 3 broadcasts, and as Principal horn on the Deutsche Grammophon, Dutton Epoch and RPO record labels.

Personal career highlights include performing with Sting at the Hollywood Bowl, New York Met and MGM Grand in Las Vegas, and touring America, Canada and Europe playing Principal horn with the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra on their Star Wars In Concert tour.

Samuel’s solo experience includes concertos by Haydn, Mozart, Hoffmann, Franz Strauss and Richard Strauss, as well as Schumann’s Konzertstuck on Principal horn. Samuel has recorded John Rimmer’s Horn Concerto with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra and his performance of Mozart’s 4 th Horn Concerto with Sinfonia Viva was broadcast on Classic FM. Samuel also toured this concerto around the country with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra in 2016.

Previous teachers include Richard Kennedy, Beccy Goldberg, Julian Plummer, Martin Owen, Michael Thompson and Richard Watkins; and Samuel himself has given masterclasses at the Royal Academy of Music, the Royal College of Music and the Royal Northern College of Music, and is currently teaching horn at the New Zealand School of Music at Victoria University Wellington. Outside of music, Sam has been an extra in the hit Bollywood movie ‘Blue’ and appeared on four UK television quiz shows, including Countdown.

Michael McLellan – Conductor

Michael McLellan’s career has been that of violinist, teacher and conductor. As a violinist, he studied at the Royal College of Music in London with the Spanish violinist Antonio Brosa and chamber music with Cecil Aronowitz. On leaving College he studied with Sascha Lasserson before returning to Auckland where he became an Itinerant Teacher with the Education Department for 45 years. During this time, he played in the Sinfonia of Auckland and recorded many sonatas for Radio NZ.

He held the position of Musical Director of the Auckland Youth Orchestra from 1974 until 1998 and continues his association as their President.

Michael was the concertmaster of St Matthew’s Chamber Orchestra for 26 years and now continues to enjoy his playing in the orchestra on both violin and viola.
He has conducted St Matthew’s Chamber Orchestra on many occasions.

Catrin Johnsson – Mezzo Soprano

Catrin Johnsson, mezzo-soprano, was born in Sweden and trained at the Royal College of Music in Stockholm and the Royal Academy of Music in London. Awards include the prestigious Christina Nilsson Award and 2018 she was awarded an ARAM (Associate of the Royal Academy of Music). Catrin lived in London for many years and has recently moved to New Zealand. Operatic roles include the title role in The Duchess of Malfi for English National Opera, Dido Dido and Aeneas, Medoro Orlando, Cherubino Le nozze di Figaro, La Ciesca Gianni Schicchi and Dimitri Fedora for Opera Holland Park, Dorabella Così fan tutte, Carmen, Meg Page Falstaff, Hansel Hansel and Gretel, Adelberto Ottone and Idelberto Lotario (London Handel Festival), Prince The Happy Prince, Nicklausse Les Contes d’Hoffmann, Zerlina Don Giovanni, Second Lady (NZO) and Third Lady The Magic Flute.

Catrin is very active on the concert platform in Europe, Scandinavia, UK and New Zealand including performances such as Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen (Queen Elizabeth Hall) and Kindertotenlieder (Purcell Room) and Grieg’s Haugtussa (St John’s, Smith Square). Together with pianist Rachel Fuller she recorded the CD In Recital. Recent performances include Stephen Montague’s Tigida Pipa and Janet Jennings’ A Bird, a Fruit and a Beast with the Karlheinz Company, as well as recitals for Chamber Music NZ, Eden Arts Chamber Music Festival and the International Akaroa Music Festival.

Catrin teaches voice and stagecraft at the University of Auckland, is language and vocal coach for Voices New Zealand Chamber Choir, Auckland Chamber Choir and Auckland Choral Society, and was the 2017 National Adjudicator for the IFAC Handa Australian Singing Competition. She is also a Principal of Faculty and Curriculum for the New Zealand Singing School. In 2019 Catrin will perform the world premier of “Sit Down With Me Awhile”, – a song cycle composed for her by the NZ composer Janet Jennings. The cycle will be recorded for a CD later in the year by Atoll Records.

Jose Aparicio – Conductor

José began studying music with his father at the age 5, continuing his flute studies at Alicante’s Music Conservatoire where he graduated in 1995 having won the graduation competition and the Sociedad de Conciertos de Alicante Prize. He then played as a soloist with orchestras for a year and in 1996 became principal flute of the Orquesta Sinfónica de Alicante and Orquesta de Camara Ciudad de Elche, touring with them both extensively.

In 1998 he moved to London to study post graduate flute, conducting and singing at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama where he graduated in 2004, and won second prize in the prestigious Gold Medal competition. During his years of study at the Guildhall José worked with conductors such as Sir Colin Davis, M. Rostropovich, Charles Dutoit, V. Ashkenazy, Leonard Slatkin, Bernard Haitink, Michael Tilson Thomas, and many more. José then performed regularly in the UK, Austria, the Netherlands, Spain and France.

In 2009, following the birth of his daughter, José emigrated to New Zealand. He is currently Artistic Director of the Napier Civic Choir. He also regularly conducts the Hawke’s Bay Orchestra and has directed and conducted the last two productions of Festival Opera in Napier. His understanding and knowledge of repertoire is extensive, his perspective one of both performer and director, feeling equally at home with Opera, Choral and Symphonic repertoire.

José’s teaching portfolio currently includes singing and flute students at a wide range of levels, and conducting choirs at Iona College and Woodford House in Havelock North. In addition, he tutors young singers taking part in Project Prima Volta.

This is his fourth appearance with SMCO.

Michael Houstoun – Pianist

Michael Houstoun was born in Timaru, New Zealand in October 1952. He began piano lessons at the age of five and under the guidance of Sr Mary Eulalie and subsequently Maurice Till he moved through the grades of the Trinity College of London examination system (ATCL 96%, LTCL 97%). At the same time he won all the major piano competitions in NZ and began playing with orchestras.
In 1973 at the age of twenty he entered and placed third in the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition. This led to a year of study with Rudolf Serkin at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. In 1975 he placed fourth in the Leeds International Piano Competition and then in 1982 sixth in the Tchaikovsky International Piano Competition.

After living overseas for six years – including a valuable period of study with Brigitte Wild in London – he returned home in 1981 where he has enjoyed his life as something of an ‘Artist in ResideNZ’, performing recitals, concertos and chamber music all over the country year in year out.

Most years he performs one or two new programs and consequently has built a very large repertoire spanning from J S Bach to the present day. Included are many compositions by NZ composers and quite a few commissions. Houstoun has twice presented the complete Beethoven sonatas in seven-concert cycles. More recently he has performed the 48 Preludes and Fugues of Bach’s ‘Well-tempered Klavier’ in two-concert events. Since 1999 he has recorded for Rattle Records ( with five of his albums winning Classical Record of the Year awards.

He has honorary degrees from Massey and Victoria universities, is a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit and a Laureate of the Arts Foundation of New Zealand.

He is Advocate of Chamber Music New Zealand, and Patron of The NZ Institute of Registered Music Teachers, the NZ Music Examinations Board, the Kerikeri International Piano Competition and the Nelson School of Music. (April 2018)

Diedre Irons – Pianist

Diedre Irons is one of New Zealand’s most distinguished performing musicians. Born in Winnipeg, Canada she made her deut with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra at the age of 12, playing the Schumann Piano Concerto. She graduated from the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia and was subsequently invited by her teacher, Rudolf Serkin, to join the faculty of that prestigious conservatory where she taught for the next seven years. During those years she toured Canada and the USA as a soloist and as a chamber music player.

Since moving to New Zealand in 1977 Irons has performed regularly with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, the Auckland Philharmonia and the Christchurch Symphony, toured many times under the auspices of Chamber Music New Zealand and recorded extensively for Radio New Zealand. With the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra and conductor Marc Taddei, she has recorded the complete Beethoven Piano Concerti on the Trust Label.

Irons has travelled internationally having to date presented concerts in 25 countries. She was awarded an MBE in 1989 and an ONZM in 2011 for services to music and in 2007 received the degree Doctor of Music (honoris causa) from Brandon University in Manitoba, Canada.

She taught at the University of Canterbury form 1992-2003 and in 2011 left her position as the Head of Classical Performance at the NZ School of Music, in order to focus fully on her own career as a concert pianist.

David Kay – Conductor

Born in Palmerston North and now residing in Auckland, David Kay is an up-and-coming New Zealand conductor in the orchestral scene. He has been an Acting Sub-Principal Horn of the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra since 2008 and a leading teacher of Horn at many North Shore schools. He studied performance French Horn at the University of Auckland where he gained his Bachelor of Music Honours in 2006 before accepting a scholarship to attend the Guildhall School of Music and Drama for a Post-Graduate Diploma of Orchestral Training in 2007 studying with Hugh Seenan, Richard Bissill and Jonathan Lipton.

David has studied conducting at the University of Auckland, The Guildhall School of Music and Drama under Sian Edwards, and is has been an active participant in the Symphony Services International Conducting Program during the last 5 years. In recent years, he has studied under Christopher Seeman with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, Marko Letonja and Christopher Seeman with the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, and Johannes Fritzsch with the Queensland Symphony Orchestra.

David made his conducting debut with the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra in 2009 and since then has featured regularly as a guest conductor of various educational and outreach programs. In 2011 he collaborated with Graham Abbott in his popular series Unwrap the Music, in 2012 made his debut with the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra and also featured on the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra’s ‘Soundtrack to Auckland’. In 2010 he was a guest conductor for the contemporary music ensemble 175 East, and in 2011 made his debut with the St Matthews Chamber Orchestra in Auckland.

David is one of the co-founders of North Shore Youth Music, a community music program combining three orchestras and three choirs on the North Shore of Auckland. He is the Musical Director of the North Shore Junior Orchestra, a post he has held since 2002, the North Shore Youth Orchestra, since 2009, and his experience with youth ensembles has seen him leading workshops for overseas music ensembles visiting New Zealand, the KBB Music Festival, the University of Auckland Academy Orchestra and numerous school orchestras and ensembles.

Martin Riseley – Violinist

New Zealand violinist Martin Riseley studied at Juilliard with Dorothy DeLay, where he completed Master of Music and Doctor of Musical Arts Degrees. He subsequently became Concertmaster of the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra for fifteen years, where he performed and premiered a number of concertos.

He has played chamber music with some of the leading musicians of our time, including Pinchas Zukerman, Yo Yo Ma and John Kimura Parker, and has held other concertmaster positions, including Interim Associate Concertmaster of the National Arts Center Orchestra, under music director Pinchas Zukerman. He was also a member of Mènage à Trio with Stèphane Lemelin and Tanya Prochazka.
Since returning to New Zealand to be Head of Strings at the New Zealand School of Music he has premiered John Corigliano’s Red Violin Chaconne, given performances throughout the country of the complete Paganini caprices, and teamed up with Diedre Irons for regular recitals, including for Chamber Music New Zealand. He has also made the first CD recordings of some important chamber works of Douglas Lilburn and recorded ‘Meditations on Michelangelo’ by Jack Body with the NZSO and Ken Young, as violin soloist. This recording won a Vodafone New Zealand Music Award for Best Classical CD in 2015. Recently he has made premiere recordings of works by David Farquhar and toured as a member of the Te Koki Trio.

In 2015 he was also appointed Concertmaster of the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra and was named patron of The Piano, a music facility of teaching studios and rehearsal spaces for the community, with a concert hall being built in the heart of Christchurch’s Arts Precinct.

Brent Stewart – Conductor

Brent Stewart was appointed Music Director of Wellington’s symphonic choir, The Orpheus Choir of Wellington in 2014. He also currently serves as sub-principal percussionist of Orchestra Wellington, Head of Music at Wellington East Girls’ College, and Assistant Director of the New Zealand Secondary Students’ Choir.
At the end of 2016, after ten successful years, he left his post as Music Director of the Hutt Valley Orchestra. Brent studied at Auckland University, Victoria University of Wellington and the New Zealand School of Music. He holds a Bachelor of Music with First Class Honours in Classical Performance alongside a Graduate Diploma in Education. Brent has extensive experience performing and touring both nationally and internationally.

He has performed as a concerto-soloist (percussion) with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, Wellington Youth Orchestra, and the Auckland Philharmonia. He regularly performs with the Royal New Zealand Ballet and New Zealand Opera. Brent is motivated by the belief that music is the greatest way to unite, share, inspire, grow, learn, and express the human condition. He is driven to make music for both audiences and performers more accessible through understanding and enjoyment.

Simone Roggen – Violinist

Simone travels around the world performing in various ensembles like Spira mirabilis, Camerata Bern, Lucerne Festival Strings, Geneva Camerata, and also as chamber musician and soloist in Switzerland, France and New Zealand.

She plays an important part in the music scene in Bern, Switzerland as Concertmaster of Opus Bern and Orchestra degli Amici, leads the second violins in the Berner Chamber Orchester, plays regularly in Camerata Bern, and is the 1st violinist in the chamber ensemble La Strimpellata Bern. In the time she was Primaria of the award winning Faust Quartet, she was playing in concert halls around Europe and also looking for new ways to communicate with audiences. Not only in chamber music formations, but with painters, sculptors, musicians from other cultures, and improvising with her quartet colleagues.

The highlight of 2017 was being invited to lead the London BBC Symphony Orchestra in the Barbican under chief conductor Sakari Oramo and 2018 saw her win the position of Concertmaster in two different orchestras in Switzerland, and worked with the legendary Kryzstov Penderecki, and violinist Patricia Kopatchinskaja.