Joshua joins NZSO National Youth Orchestra

25 Jun 2021

Joshua Hooker is making waves – sound waves!

The Year 11 will fly to Wellington on Sunday 27 June for a weeklong course with the NZSO, as a member of the 2021 National Youth Orchestra. First up will be a seating audition to determine the ranking of the first violins, and then begins the hard work before the whole orchestra is flown to Auckland for a livestream concert in the Auckland Town Hall on 2 July. Nine days later the NYO will partner with the NZSO again for a second concert in Wellington’s Michael Fowler Centre.

“The programme we’re going to play is especially exciting because it not only includes Shostakovich’s Symphony No 7 Leningrad, but we will also be premiering a new piece, Ngā Hihi o Matariki, by Gareth Farr.”

Shostakovich is one of the 15-year-old’s favourite composers, and he wrote the symphony under Stalin’s rule during the siege of Leningrad during World War II.

“The thing is how he could write music the way he has, while under the heavy grip of totalitarianism. There are markers in the work which demonstrate the environment in which it was written, and which throw light on the way he felt about what was going on.”

At one hour 20 minutes in length, Leningrad is the longest symphony he wrote.

This isn’t the first time Joshua has played in the NZO National Youth Orchestra. He was a second violinist in 2020, but the experience was tempered by Covid-19 and while the group’s proposed concerts were scuttled in July last year, it eventually performed in December.

It’s all fascinating background experience for this young musician who started violin as a five or six-year- old – learning via the Suzuki method – and a year later took up piano.

These days Joshua says he is a violinist first and foremost, having been selected twice for the NZ Secondary Schools’ Orchestra, and as concert master of the 2018 Christchurch Schools’ Music Festival.

He spends an hour a day on each instrument during school holidays and alternates an hour a day on either violin or piano in term time.

Joshua came to College from Medbury School on a Somes Instrumental Scholarship, and is thriving on the music programme, including composition, under Director of Music Robert Aburn. He attained his ATCL in violin in Year 8 and in piano in Year 9. He has just finished recording his programme for his LTCL in piano.

A keen club swimmer, Joshua enjoys football in winter, reads scientific articles and regularly checks the news. His future will certainly include music.

“Music is what I enjoy doing. But there are other fields that I also find really interesting. At the moment, I’m undecided.”