Michael Newnham is one of Canada's busiest conductors, and frequently conducts on either side of the Atlantic. Mr. Newnham has conducted many orchestras and opera companies throughout 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 Orchestra.
As of 2001, Mr. Newnham has been the Music Director of the Peterborough Symphony Orchestra. Under his tenure, the audiences grew, with most concerts boasting 70% of them being subscribers. Michael was appointed Music Director of Symphony New Brunswick in 2009, and continues to feature composers of the province as well as other Atlantic composers. He also conducted the first-ever performance of Mahler in New Brunswick, a song cycle featuring Canadian mezzo-soprano Lynne McMurtry. Michael has been Music Director of the Northumberland Orchestra and Choir since 2007; and since 2004, he has been on the faculty as conductor and coach for Music at Port Milford, a chamber music camp for string players. Music at Port Milford also features a series of concerts in Picton. Musical mentoring is also an important initiative for Michael; in 2002 he founded the Kawartha Youth Orchestra, and the ensemble celebrates its 10th anniversary in the 2011/2012 season.
Equally at home in works of the Viennese masters, as well as late Romantics and contemporary works, Michael Newnham has also actively promoted music of Canadian and Polish composers, as well as Polish culture. In Toronto, he conducted several concerts marking the milestones of Pope John Paul II: the 25th anniversary of his Papacy in 2003 at 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. Michael also conducted an acclaimed production of R. Murray Schafer’s “Patria: The Enchanted Forest”, in 2005. The work is part of the composer’s decades-long project and was performed in the Haliburton Forest.
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. Michael has also expanded his horizons to Asia; on invitation from the Taegu-Hyosung University in South Korea, Michael Newnham spent two years (1996 – 1998) as Guest Professor and Orchestra Conductor at that institution.
Michael Newnham served as a trombonist with the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. He studied symphonic and opera conducting with Professor Boguslaw Madey at the prestigious Chopin Academy of Music in Warsaw. He became a conductor staff member of the Warsaw Chamber Opera, making his operatic conducting debut in 1994 with Mozart’s "Le nozze di Figaro". A great influence was Georg Tintner, with whom Michael studied in the late 1990s; other mentors include Franco Mannino, Raffi Armenian, Victor Feldbrill, Agnes Grossmann, Uri Mayer, Victor Yampolsky, and many others as apprentice conductor at Toronto's Royal Conservatory Orchestra. Michael received his Bachelor of Music at Indiana University and studied at The Banff Centre.
Offstage, Michael listens to all kinds of music, from classical to The Beatles, Pat Metheny, Polish jazz vocalist Anna Maria Jopek, Led Zeppelin, and endless others. He works out, be it at the gym, on his bike or cross-country skis. Michael has a serious zeal for excellent coffee, the result of a trip to Italy. He will drive extra miles out of his way to pick up high-quality beans; he would be a barista in Rome were it not for music. Along with English, Michael speaks fluent Polish and French, and speaks conversational Italian and German.