The Flying Baton of Peter Thomas

It's like a big party!

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I often ponder how fortunate I am to do what I do. To conduct orchestras, to share my passion for music, to work with so many like-minded individuals who all love to bring music to life. To work in a range of genres, from the classical ouvre, film and show music, to Kiwi pop songs, EDM with orchestra, and the commissioning of brand new (never heard before) works is a real joy!

Must admit - I have loved music all my life. I first became interested in orchestras in a big way when I went to see Star Wars at the Civic as a 7-year-old. The music really exploded off the screen at me and I’ve been a huge fan ever since. After playing several instruments, I got involved in conducting as a 16-year-old when my piano teacher organised a chamber orchestra for me to have a go with. I was immediately bitten by the conducting bug and I haven’t stopped since.

Since 2011 I have been Music Director of the Auckland Symphony Orchestra. One of our most popular annual concerts - and one of my favourites to conduct - is the Last Night of the Proms, where we re-create the famed concert from London’s Royal Albert Hall. It’s like a big party with the audience singing along, wonderful soloists and the very best of British orchestral music.

Conducting an orchestra is a multi-faceted experience. From planning concerts, preparing the music, rehearsing the ensemble and then performing. We are always trying to bring the composers music to life in the best possible way. This is not always possible when things sometimes go awry. I have managed to let my baton fly out of my hand, in error, and to my horror it hit orchestra members and once had the misfortune for my own cell-phone to ring in the middle of the concert. (It was the local pub, checking what time the orchestra were coming for post-concert drinks). 

As someone heavily involved in the arts, I would encourage all artists - musicians, actors, dancers, visual artists and filmmakers - to keep doing what you love the most, and to continue inspiring and encouraging others. Work together! Collaborate and share your passion. Continue bringing joy to others.  

Last Night of the Proms plays:
Saturday 23 June, 7.30pm         Bruce Mason Centre
Sunday 24 June, 5.30pm           Auckland Town Hall
Tickets available: https://www.aucklandlive.co.nz/show/last-night-of-the-proms

Written by

Peter Thomas

11 Jun 2018

Peter Thomas is the Music Director of the Auckland Symphony Orchestra. He has conducted the NZSO, APO, Auckland Youth Orchestra, St Matthew's Chamber Orchestra, and Devonport Chamber Orchestra.