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International conductor awarded honorary doctorate from Waikato

9 March 2011

james judd

Honoured Conductor: New Zealand Symphony Orchestra’s Music Director Emeritus, James Judd, will receive an honorary doctorate from the University of Waikato.

New Zealand Symphony Orchestra’s Music Director Emeritus, James Judd, will receive an honorary doctorate from the University of Waikato next week.

James Judd spent nearly a decade as music director with the NZSO and during that time he raised the orchestra’s international profile and supported performance and recordings of New Zealand composers. He says he’s excited and deeply moved to receive this honorary doctorate.

He’s currently based in Florida but travels the world as a guest conductor for major orchestras.

English by birth, he has led the London Symphony and Royal Philharmonic orchestras, the Royal Scottish Orchestra, the Vienna Symphony Orchestra and the Israel and Berlin Philharmonic orchestras. He was a co-founder of the Chamber Orchestra of Europe and toured with them across the world.

James Judd joined the NZSO in 1999 to take up the role of music director – the first person to hold such a role in the orchestra’s history.

He championed New Zealand composers and new commissions, and a year into his tenure the orchestra enjoyed a new level of visibility and international renown through appearances at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney and the specially televised millennium concert with Kiri Te Kanawa as soloist. He led the orchestra on its first tour of the major concert halls of Europe which included an appearance at the BBC Proms.

During his years with the NZSO, Mr Judd took on an unprecedented number of recordings for the Naxos label, including works by Copland, Bernstein, Vaughan Williams and three symphonies by New Zealand composer Douglas Lilburn with what was described as “elegant and purposeful direction”. He also conducted several world premieres, including Michael Nyman’s Saxophone Concerto and Gareth Farr’s Hikoi.

He remembers his time with New Zealand fondly. “My admiration for the country, its people and the quality of culture and education knows no bounds. I consider myself very fortunate to have had such wonderful experiences here.”

James Judd will have his honorary doctorate conferred at a special ceremony at the Waikato University Academy of Performing Arts on 16 March.