Manawatu Sinfonia
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Manawatu Youth Orchestra: Conductor

The MYO is pleased to announce the appointment of Vesa-Matti Leppänen as the Youth Orchestra’s Principal Conductor. It has also appointed Joanna Dann as Assistant Conductor. 

Vesa is well-known to New Zealand’s concertgoers. Born and raised in Finland, he was appointed Concertmaster of the NZSO, a position he has held since 2002. Vesa has an impressive record internationally as a violin soloist chamber musician and concert master and tutor. He is now pursuing a new aspect in his career as a conductor. 

Vesa says, “I’m very passionate in matching the expectations with the level of talent to make every project as rewarding as possible. This would involve creating a set of repertoire that is exciting for the audiences but more importantly for the keen youngsters.”

The MYO was also impressed with former Palmerstonian, Joanna Dann, who has recently completed postgraduate studies on cello at Waikato and Otago. She is now  developing her conducting skills to add to her music-teaching. The MYO decided to appoint Joanna to the new position of Assistant Conductor to help develop conducting locally and to rehearse when Vesa is fulfilling his NZSO commitments.

The appointments follow the resignation of long-time conductor Isaac Henderson at the end of last year. MYO president Jeff McNeill says being able to attract applicants of such high calibre reflect well on how Isaac had developed the orchestra during his tenure.

“I am sure the Youth Orchestra to continue to grow under our two new conductors. Our musicians will have a great time under Vesa who showed us during the auditions that striving for excellence in orchestral playing can also be fun. And we are thrilled to have Joanna join Vesa. Together they will make a great team.”

Jeff McNeill






Membership of the Manawatu Youth Orchestra averages around 50 players, with a good balance of sections. We welcome new players in all sections, though there may occasionally be limits in the woodwind section. Auditions are held in February each year, for more information see our 'Join Us' page. We perform two main concerts a year and also a variety of charity and schools events. 

We perform three or four main concerts a year, with a variety of styles to suit a range of audiences and provide interest and challenge to the players. Concerts often feature a professional soloist in a concerto and a large-scale symphony. We sometimes invite guest players to augment our numbers and fill any gaps in instrumentation.  



President: Jeff McNeill

Vice-Presidents: Sir Brian Elwood

Secretary: Gillian Gibb

Treasurer: Bronwyn Boddy

Librarian: Lynette Quinn

Concert Manager: Robert Elder

Other Committee Members: Gabrielle Gibb, Isaac Henderson, Emma Mill, Catriona Hay, Katherine Ward, Simon Lennard, Rachel Ingham



Support and Funding

The orchestra is a registered charity which is funded from member subscriptions, concert door takings, and valued support from various organisations. Like many such organisations, we are dependent on assistance, grants, and sponsorship in order to continue to provide a quality educational and cultural service to the community. If you think that you may be able to help support what we are doing, please contact us. 

Links to other related groups


ECCT community trust       Pub charity    
Milverton Trust
Performance Trust




            Evelyn Rawlins Arts Trust                    

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