Gretchen La Roche
Clarinetist Gretchen La Roche lived for many years in Christchurch where she held the position of Principal Clarinet and CEO with the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra.
A passionate advocate for new music, Gretchen is a founding member of 175 East, the Auckland based contemporary music ensemble. 175 East have commissioned and premiered many new works by both New Zealand and international composers and in 2003 were the recipients of the KBB/CANZ citation for services to New Zealand music.
Gretchen has personally commissioned a number of composers including Lyell Cresswell, Norm Skipp and James Gardner. Last year she premiered a Quintet written for her and the New Zealand String Quartet by Anthony Ritchie as well as In Transit: GPS for a Known Place, a major collaboration between composer Dorothy Ker, sculptor Kate Allen and dancer, Marina Collard.
As Director of the Gisborne International Music Competition, Gretchen was instrumental in developing the Holdsworth Prize. This substantial award is presented for the best performance of a New Zealand work and is aimed at encouraging competitors to seek out and perform music by New Zealand composers. She was awarded an Associate of the Royal Academy of Music in 2001.
Gretchen collaborated with Free Theatre as both performer and producer on Stravinksy's The Soldiers Tale (2013), Canterbury Tales (2013) and The Mauricio Kagel Project (2015) and aligned CSO players for key projects including the recent Ars Acustica (2019).
Gretchen performs regularly throughout New Zealand and in 2021 took up a role as Chief Executive at Chamber Music New Zealand.