New director appointed to Nelson School of Music
The Nelson School of Music is gearing up for its reopening next year with the appointment of a new director.
The School Trust Board announced today that Auckland Grammar HOD Music James Donaldson has accepted the position. Trust
Chair Roger Taylor said Donaldson brings proven leadership as well as a great passion for a wide range of music.
“We are very excited at what James will bring to this critical role as the School moves into a new era in its 123 year
history,” Taylor said. “He was the stand-out among 70 people who expressed interest in the job, he is very personable
and he has all the right reasons for moving to Nelson – including an interest in fly-fishing!”
Donaldson will commence duties at the School in mid-January next year, when there will be some teaching facilities ready
“It’s going to be a staged reopening as we work through all the sign-offs,” Taylor said. “The auditorium will remain
closed while the Cawthron Organ is restored, so it will be April before we officially open our doors again.”
Donaldson is no stranger to the School and says playing in its ‘wonderful auditorium’ as a student attending an early
Adam Chamber Music Summer School was a transformative experience
“It is a great honour to take on the role of director as the School reopens. I know the importance of a facility such as
this to cultivate community in music education and performance and I’m very excited about sharing my experience as this
inspiring organisation moves into a new era.”
James Donaldson grew up in Christchurch, studied there and in Manchester where he gained a Master of Music, and has done
further study across the range from choral conducting to music technology. He was a founding member of the Skipton
Camerata, has sung with Bach Musica and a cappella jazz choir Stellar Singers, and currently plays cello and percussion
with the Auckland Symphony Orchestra. Prior to his HOD position at Auckland Grammar he managed two other secondary
school music departments and has directed musical productions, bands, orchestras and choirs in a wide range of styles
and genres as well as running music festivals, ceremonies and competitions.
The $8.5m redevelopment and new build of the Nelson School of Music includes strengthening the 1901 auditorium, removal
of the old foyer, Balling Theatre and Rainey House and replacement with a new foyer area, construction of a new
performance/rehearsal area, studios, classroom and a library; the replacement of historic decorative elements and the
restoration of the Cawthron organ.