"Unusually for me, I wrote a few notes for this review. One of them read, simply "HOLLY!!!". It's hardly the most eloquent or insightful thing one can say about a conductor, but it's a reflection of the inspired and brilliant work of Holly Mathieson." (Sarah Noble, critic and opera blogger)

New Zealand-born Holly Mathieson is currently Assistant Conductor at the RSNO (2016-18), Resident Conductor of the National Youth Orchestra of Scotland Junior Orchestra and Artistic Director of Rata Music Collective, In the 17:18 season, guest engagements include concerts with the London Symphony, BBC Concert, Royal Philharmonic, City of Birmingham, Scottish Chamber and Salomon orchestras, London's Southbank Sinfonia, Royal Northern Sinfonia's Young Sinfonia, Red Note Ensemble, Scottish Ballet and the Royal College of Music Philharmonia Orchestra. Highlights of the 16:17 season included a commercial recording of works by John McLeod with Dame Evelyn Glennie and the RSNO; several education projects with the LSO, including a performance of Stravinsky's Rite of Spring at the Barbican; and her US debut with the Illinois Philharmonic.​

In 14:15, Holly held one of the world's most prestigious fellowships for young conductors, the Leverhulme Fellowship at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. She enjoyed a critically acclaimed London debut in 2015 as the Christine Collins Young Artist Conductor in Associate at Opera Holland Park, and in the last two seasons has had debuts with Southbank Sinfonia and the Auckland Philharmonia, and worked as assistant conductor with Opera North, Garsington Opera and Longborough Festival Opera.​

In the past, she has assisted Esa-Pekka Salonen and Christoph von Dohnanyi at the Philharmonia Orchestra, Donald Runnicles at the BBCSSO, and Marin Alsop at the BBC Proms. 2013 saw success in being chosen as one of four young conductors from around the world to participate in the Interaktion Dirigentenwerkstatt des Kritischen Orchesters with players from the Berlin Philharmonic and other top-tiered German orchestras, and a place as one of Dartington International Summer School's advanced conducting fellows. She was immediately re-invited to Dartington in 2014 as a guest conductor. In 2015 she was a finalist for the position of Assistant Conductor at Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France.​

Awards for Holly's work include a 2013 Professional Development Grant from Creative NZ, the 2012 AMP Regional Scholarship from Roost Mortgages, the 2009 Patronage Award from Adrienne, Lady Stewart and the NZ Arts Foundation, and the Elman Poole Travelling Scholarship (2006). Holly was named a Ryoichi Sasakawa Young Leaders Fellow in 2008. She was also given a high commendation in the 2013 Taki Concordia Fellowship. In 2016, Zonta NZ named her as one of New Zealand's Top 50 Women of Achievement. She holds a PhD in Music Iconography, entitled "Embodying Music: The Visuality of Three Iconic Conductors in London, 1840-1940".

Review extracts

"This music was not only beautiful and accessible, it was played with such verve, such panache, such virtuosity, that while some prior knowledge may have been interesting for some, this experience was universal. The significant single element was conductor Mathieson's clarity and elegance in the way the orchestra was led to interpret and present what was, more than anything else, an evening of extraordinary musical images...Mozart's Symphony No.25 in G minor began with a perfectly executed Allegro con brio in which there was brio to burn and an haunting oboe asking moody and moving questions of the brio. Heard it before? Not like this, you haven't. Mathieson seemed to have an unusually perceptive understanding of the musical imagery in the Mozart, perhaps most particularly in the Menuetto and Trio  and this understanding was even more obvious in Eve de Castro-Robinson'sReleasing the Angel, a recent and evocative composition filled with visual poetry and musical exploration. Edward King's cello, so responsive to Mathieson's informed guidance, was spell binding, even when it was in competition with a carefully tuned, finger sensitised crystal glass, and while one has access to other interpretations, tonight King released the angel in the cello."  Sam Edwards, www.stuff.co.nz, 17 September 2016 (Opus Orchestra - Gallagher Academy of Performing Arts, Hamilton, NZ)​

"... [I]f there was an atmosphere conjured up it was mainly due to the efforts of the orchestra under the excellent New Zealand conductor Holly Mathieson. Her gestures were impeccably clear and yet expressive, and the orchestra responded impressively to her way with the score. She naturally feels just the right amount of give and take, enabling the music to flow. The orchestra needs to be extremely flexible to avoid exuding a sort of generalist Gallic feel, and Mathieson was particularly adept at isolating the central feel of a particular section, or following the unfolding drama naturally." Colin Clark, Seen and Heard International, July 29, 2015 (Delibes, Lakmé - Opera Holland Park, London)

5 stars: "...[W]hat we had from the Junior Orchestra of the National Youth Orchestra of Scotland on Saturday was a phenomenal display of musicianship. I literally thought, on the night: "These musicians are between eight and 13 years old; what they are achieving here tonight, in a sold-out Greyfriars concert, where the buzz is electric, is genuinely outstanding." Everything they did, guided and released by the charismatic New Zealand conductor Holly Mathieson, from MacCunn's Land of the Mountain and Flood to Gliere's little-known, gloriously-melodic Horn Concerto, came soaring off the page. Horn soloist Diana Sheach's playing of the Gliere was a wonder to hear. I don't know if it's a masterpiece, but she made it feel like one: what conviction".  Michael Tumelty, The Herald Scotland, July 12, 2015 (BYOS Junior Orchestra - Greyfriars kirk, Edinburgh)

1981
Born Dunedin
2001
First-class honours degree at Otago University 
2002-2003
Principal Conductor, Victorian Youth Symphony Orchestra
2003
Masters in orchestral conducting from the University of Melbourne Conservatorium
2004
Began working as a frelance conductor in New Zealand;Began writing a PhD in Music Iconography;Conducted world premiere of Anthony Ritchie's The God Boy
2008
Conducted Opera Otago's Cosi fan Tutte
2009
Appointed Artistic Director of the Solid Energy Chorus of Southern Opera;Debuted with the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra in their Big Bang education concert;Arts Foundation Award for Patronage donation recipient from Adrienne, Lady Stewart
2010
Completed her PhD in Music Iconography;Took up appointment with the Philharmonia Orchestra, London
2011
Co-Director the Reuleaux Ensemble, London
2012
Recipient of an AMP scholarship
2013
Assistant Conductor to Marin Alsop at the BBC Last night of the Proms; Assistant Conductor to Christoph von Dohnanyi with the Philharmonia Orchestra (London)
2014
Leverhulme Conducting Fellow at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland
2016
Appointed Assistant Conductor at the Royal Scottish National Orchestra (RSNO); Zonta New Zealand named Holly one of New Zealand's 50 Women of Achievement! She was the only arts practitioner on the list.
2017
Conducts London Symphony Orchestra as part of the LSO Discovery series; 2 month tour of Scotland with Scottish Ballet and Peter Darrell's iconic staging of Nutcracker; Conducts Southbank Sinfonia featuring Jorg Widmann's Con Brio and Beethoven's 7th Symphony played in the round. Makes her debut with BBC Concert Orchestra at the London Jazz Festival in November.
2018
Holly's debuts with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and RCM Philharmonia, Royal Northern Sinfonia, and returns to BBC Concert Orchestra. Full details are available on the Diary page