Youth Philharmonic Tauranga Part II: inspirational conductor Justus Rozemond


The Youth Philharmonic Tauranga needs more player members. Not your usual instruments but things like oboes, bassoons, brass, a cellist, a bass player and of course as many other “strings” as they can get their orchestral hands on!

Justus Rozemond conductor of both the Bay of Plenty Symphonia and Youth Philharmonic Tauranga Photo Lee Switzer

I don’t wait long outside the Greerton Cafe Le Chat Noir on this indifferent July Wednesday where I’m to meet with Justus Rozemond Conductor of the Bay of Plenty Symphonia and the Youth Philharmonic Tauranga and our ARTbop photographer Lee Switzer.

Switzer shows up, camera bag slung over his shoulder. He has an extensive photographic practice as an archival photographer and has over recent time supported the work of ARTbop with not only his photography but his poetry and short stories.

Rozemond arrives – he fairly bounces up holding a small container like a white bicycle pump – it’s his baton container. He’s a man who exudes energy. His cellphone rings and he defers a Radio New Zealand interview until later in the day – yes it’s Rozemond who found the Gustave Holst scores in the archives of the Bay of Plenty Symphonia. Yes he’s excited about that discovery but he’s more concerned to use his available time to share his vision and enthusiasm for the Youth Philharmonic Tauranga.

I keep saying it; one of the absolute privileges of working with ARTbop is the meeting and talking with the creative community of the Bay of Plenty. Justus Rozemond would have to be at the very extreme end of dedication and determination both to his role as conductor but also to his wider aspirations for the YPT, the Bay of Plenty Symphonia and the development of classical music facilities and appreciation in and around Tauranga.

Justus briefly backgrounds the restarting of the YPT – there was one twenty years ago but “it fizzled out.” FAME was keen to sponsor classical music and YPT has also had the support of private benefactors. It started with the 2016 workshop and informal concert at the Historic Village. Rozemond mentions the YPT concert in May of this year (Part I of this series) and then focuses on future activities. Weekly practices commence on 26th of July for September performance – possibly again in the Graham Young Theatre.

Justus Rozemond conducts the Youth Philharmonic Tauranga at the Graham Young Theatre Tauranga photo Rosemary Balu

Rozemond focuses on the YPT’s need for player and instrument diversity. At present the YPT relies on some adult player participation. What Rozemond stresses is the need for schools, parents and young people to consider a more diverse range of instrument choice. Why not the French Horn, the oboe, the bassoon, the cello, the bass? Yes, an orchestra needs violins and violas but it doesn’t need an enormous number of flutes. Unfortunately we as parents tend to encourage our children into a limited category of instrument tuition.

One of the outcomes of so many young people learning the same limited categories of instrument is the intense competition for orchestral places and professional musical advancement and opportunity. It’s much, much more difficult to be the orchestra flautist merely because of the player numbers.

Rozemond is candid – he wishes someone had told him the above and he wouldn’t have been just a good clarinet player with a limited musical career path.

I ask whether a more diverse selection of youthful instrument players can be found in the wider Bay of Plenty? Well, they tried that but the response wasn’t significant and the weekly evening practices and travel would deter many with school and tertiary education commitments.

What we need is a European-style music school. We need to have in place the progression from that initial very young musician, to youth orchestra participant to potential professional musician. That prompts me to interject and share the opinion of an earlier ARTbop classical music reviewer – what we need is a concert hall, an opera house – a significant venue which Baycourt does not provide.

I repeat my personal opinion that trying to cram “everything” into Downtown Tauranga is like trying to fit an elephant in an eggcup and indicative of the continuing “tiny town” mentality of Tauranga.

My preference for a major performance venue in Pyes Pa or Tauriko on a large greenfield site with adequate parking and associated facilities is not currently on anyone’s “wish list”. I support my preference by noting that current roading infrastructure could easily bring audiences from the Waikato, Katikati and beyond, Mount Maunganui and the coastal development down to Whakatane. And a major performance venue could have associated facilities – music school, smaller performance venues and like the Sydney Opera House – specialist retail and restaurant facilities. It’s a community project – Carrus or Classic?

Rozemond listens patiently and notes the importance of acoustics in any venue. But I’m left with the impression that we both agree that more is needed across the classical board – diversity of instrument and tuition and an appropriate venue.

I ask about funding – well the YPT has been well supported although an initial application to the Tauranga City Council was rejected! We touch on the funding and financial position of the Bay of Plenty Symphonia and other regionally based orchestras. The Symphonia is thriving as a result of the dedicated work of a small number of people. Rozemond says he undertakes a wide range of management and fundraising tasks. Yes, they would welcome what I call administrative support – but it would need to be professional and consistent (my words). In particular they’d benefit from having a Concert Manager and a website administrator.

Like many community-based cultural organisations the amount of unpaid and voluntary work far exceeds any financial or grant contributions or salaries. I’m left with the strong feeling that the Symphonia and the YPT are thriving because of the presence of Rozemond as conductor and leader of the musical team.

I naively ask why the Bay of Plenty Symphonia doesn’t play some “popular music” concerts. The orchestral participation is voluntary – musicians are not paid – they like to play what they like. But he’s working on it. He’s working on it to the extent he tried to communicate with a local hip hop dance group.

During my conversation with Rozemond photographer Switzer has moved around our small outdoor table camera angles varying. When he finally sits I ask him if he has any questions for Justus. He asks Rozemond about his previous career as a Geophysicist. We learn about Rozemond’s award for an earlier invention and his professional success in that field.

Rozemond also tells us he started the piano as a 5 year old in the Hague, Holland, then played the violin before moving on to the clarinet. He wistfully repeats he wished he had his own advice about instrument choice. He was a student at the Victoria University School of Music (New Zealand School of Music) – it’s clear he worked hard at his second chosen profession.

Throughout our interview Rozemond has been checking the time on his phone to ensure he’s at home again for his radio interview. Switzer takes some photos with Justus holding one of his batons. Then he takes a photo of Rozemond and I laughing outside the cafe as bemused onlookers walk past. Then Rozemond is literally running up the main street of Greerton. The energy, the dedication and enthusiasm has been infectious. He’s another migrant we really need to keep!

There’s a website

You can contact Justus Rozemond and the Youth Philharmonic Tauranga on

If you are interested in supporting either the Youth Philharmonic Tauranga or the Bay of Plenty Symphonia in any way please make contact through the above email address.


Check out the information about the discovery of the Gustav Holst sheet music in the archives of the Bay of Plenty Symphonia

“The media-frenzy about the Holst manuscript that we discovered in our BoPS library has settled down a bit. We have made the papers in Cuba, Tunesia, Myanmar, Indonesia, India, Romania, Fiji, Mexico and Hungary, just to name a few. There’s a few media clips that can be accessed over the internet, if people are interested:

NZ TV1 News at 6 (22/7)

Music world in a spin over discovery of manuscripts   or this one which requires making a – free –  account:)      Our item: 27m52s

BBC 4 News (18/7)  

Our item: 28m08s

Radio NZ (19/7)


ARTbop will be publishing a portfolio of images by Lee Switzer and will let you know through facebook and twitter when they’re up online.

Youth Philharmonic Tauranga – this could be the orchestra for you


Murray Clode, Jannine Bishop and Rosemary Balu at the opening of Paradox inside

Rosemary Balu. Rosemary Balu is the founding and current editor of ARTbop. Rosemary has arts and law degrees from the University of Auckland. She has been a working lawyer and has participated in a wide variety of community activities where information gathering, submission writing, community advocacy and education have been involved. Interested in all forms of the arts since childhood Rosemary is focused on further developing and expanding multi-media ARTbop as the magazine for all the creative arts in the Bay of Plenty, New Zealand.


ZOETICA – life – passion – bravery 30 August to 02 September 2017 Tarnished Frocks & Divas in association with Carrus     W: F: Tarnished Frocks and Divas



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