Inducted in 2018
Student at Marsden from 1991 (Preschool) – 2004 (Year 13)
Receives this award in recognition of her achievement as a musical director and orchestral conductor. Her interpretation of music, particularly New Zealand music is well-known and appreciated by international audiences.
Gemma first conducted an orchestra at the age of 15, although she was playing the violin at five, the piano at seven and in an orchestra at nine. After leaving Marsden Gemma started a double degree in music and science at Victoria University, Wellington. Gemma transferred her music degree to University of Canterbury and graduated with BMus (Hons) in Violin Performance. She then gained the opportunity to study and complete a Master’s Degree in Orchestral Conducting at the Peabody Institute, part of John Hopkins University in Baltimore, USA.
In her career as a conductor and musical director, Gemma has worked with a variety of orchestras mainly in America and Canada, and has been guest conductor for orchestras all over the world including the Christchurch Symphony, the Opus Orchestra and most recently the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra. As Musical Director, Gemma has a leadership role in determining and interpreting what an orchestra plays; she is always aware of her audience and changes styles to reflect it.
Gemma is not fazed by the gender gap in her profession; she has never considered that being female should stop her conducting. “I went to an all-girls school” she said “Maybe that had something to do with thinking that girls can do anything. …. From my age group, people have gone on to be engineers of all kinds, athletes, stay-at-home moms, everything. We were really told you could do anything if you worked hard at it, have a talent for it, a passion for it and you’re dedicated. That’s what I have tried to be”