Newnham is best known for his intense and inspiring conducting style,
based on a deep knowledge of the score and informed by a strong
interest in languages, cultures and history. A born communicator,
his open and direct contact with musicians and audiences creates
performances full of expression and energy.
Mr. Newnham has conducted many orchestras and opera companies
througout Poland, Slovakia, Italy, South Korea, as well as his
native Canada. He will return to Poland in March 2012, his first
trip since residing there, to conduct the Sudecka Philharmonic
Michael was appointed Music Director of Symphony New Brunswick
in 2009, where he conducted the first-ever performance in that
province of the music of Gustav Mahler, and has been instrumental
in raising the national profile of the orchestra. Michael has
been Music Director of the Northumberland Orchestra and Choir
since 2007, and, since 2004, has been on the faculty as conductor
and coach for Music at Port Milford, an intensive four-week summer
chamber music program for gifted string players. As of 2001, Mr.
Newnham has been the Music Director of the Peterborough Symphony
Orchestra. Under his tenure, the artistic level, number of concerts,
and the community profile of the PSO have risen dramatically.
Born in Hamilton, Canada, Michael's early training was on piano
and trombone. He was a member of the National Youth Orchestra
of Canada, and, while a student at the Indiana University School
of Music, was also active as a jazz and studio musician, touring
the the midwestern United States with the "Lettermen".
It was a chance encounter at Indiana University with Leonard Bernstein,
however, that inspired him to pursue his interest in conducting.
While playing with the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony and Toronto
Symphony Orchestras, he became an Apprentice Conductor with the
Royal Conservatory Orchestra in Toronto, where his mentors included
Franco Mannino, Raffi Armenian, Agnes Grossmann, Victor Feldbrill,
Uri Mayer, Victor Yampolsky and Boris Brott.
A deep love of Polish language, music and culture led him to
complete his Master's Degree in Orchestral and Operatic Conducting
at the Chopin Academy of Music in Warsaw, under Professor Boguslaw
Madey. While a student, Mr. Newnham joined the conducting staff
of the Warsaw Chamber Opera, where he gained critical recognition
for his performances of operas by Mozart, Rossini and Cimarosa.
His work with the Warsaw Chamber Opera led him to studies with
Georg Tintner, and to a special engagement from the East Slovakian
State Opera to conduct Verdi's "Aïda". Michael
has also worked with the Kiev Classical Ballet Theatre and Montréal's
Mr. Newnham's strong connection to Poland feeds his interest
in the music of Szymanowski, Lutoslawski, Karlowicz, Moniuszko,
Górecki, and other Polish romantic and contemporary composers,
as well as Russian and Czech masters. His musical interests are
wide, ranging from Monteverdi, Bach and Handel through Haydn,
Mozart and Beethoven, Schubert, Schumann, Brahms, Tchaikovsky
and Mahler, to Bartók, Stravinsky, Prokofiev and Shostakovich.
Michael has also been very active in presenting new works of Canadian
composers to audiences at home and abroad. He conducted an acclaimed
production of R. Murray Schafer's "Patria: The Enchanted
Forest" in 2005.
In Toronto, Michael conducted several concerts marking the milestones
of Pope John Paul II: the 25th anniversary of his Papacy in 2003
at the Air Canada Centre, a memorial concert two years later,
plus an event honouring the Pope's beatification in May 2011,
both at Roy Thomson Hall.
Mr. Newnham has been the recipient of awards and honours, including
the "Best Operatic Conductor" award from the East Slovakian
State Opera and the "Order of Merit" from the Republic
of Poland. Mr. Newnham was also presented in 2005 with the Turzanski
Foundation Award for his services in promoting Polish music and
culture in Canada. He has been an Music Advisor to the Ontario
Arts Council. Michael has also expanded his horizons to Asia:
on invitation from the Taegu-Hyosung University in South Korea,
he spent two years (1996-1998) at that institution.
Offstage, Michael likes to cycle and cross-country ski. He is
a great enthusiast of the world of brewing the perfect espresso,
fervently hoping to be able to consistently get it right some
Michael is bilingual in English and Polish, and is fluently conversational
in French, German and Italian.