NZYSW 2024/2025

Musical Directors: Who’s Who!

We are excited to announce our conductors for the NZYSW 2024 Winter intensive which will be held in Nelson from 15 – 19 July 2024. Joining us as Musical Director is Mike Ashton and Richar Marin as our Assistant Conductor!

Originally from the UK, Mike Ashton studied trombone at the Birmingham Conservatoire under Philip Harrison from the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. Whilst studying, he was selected as principal trombone of the National Youth Wind Orchestra of Great Britain and upon graduating joined the Band of the Coldstream Guards as co-principal trombone. During this time, he performed at many high profile events including the BBC Proms and Live 8 in Hyde Park, ceremonial occasions such as the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace and Trooping the Colour, and extensive tours through Europe, the USA, Japan and Australia. In 2009 the band recorded the platinum selling album “Heroes” which went on to be nominated for a Classical Brit award.

Mike moved to New Zealand in 2010 to take up the position of Principal Trombone for the Royal New Zealand Navy Band. Highlights included recording the official 2016 NZ olympic song with Hollie Smith and tours of Samoa, Tonga, South Korea and Australia. During his time in Auckland, he also performed with the Auckland Philharmonia and its associated trombone choir “Aucktet”,  the Rodger Fox Big Band, the Auckland Jazz Orchestra, Dalewool brass and the 2014 National Band of New Zealand on their tour of China. Upon leaving the Navy, he relocated to Wellington and is currently Director of Arts at Wellington College and Principal Trombone of the Royal New Zealand Air Force band.

He is in demand as a conductor and educator and is the Musical Director of Wellington City Concert Band and Wellington Combined Colleges Orchestra.


Richar Marin Hidalgo is a highly skilled and passionate musician who is currently based in Wellington. He was born in Colombia, however Aotearoa-New Zealand has been his home for the last six years.

Richar has a Master of Music and classical saxophone degree from the Fine Arts University Foundation of Medellin Colombia, has specialized in conducting at tertiary institutions of the Government of Antioquia Colombia, and also holds a Master’s degree in social psychology from the Catholic University of Cuyo. With his qualifications and twenty years of professional experience he has successfully been able to combine two of his passions, music and social work, delivering training and seminars, teaching, and conducting.

As well as international competitions and festivals, Richar has participated in multiple concert bands, symphony orchestras, and saxophone quartets in Argentina, Colombia, Peru, Mexico, Spain, USA, and New Zealand. Richar performed at the Michael Hill International Competition in 2021 and is an active member of ‘Saxcess’, a Wellington based saxophone quartet. Additionally, he is a senior tutor and Conductor at Arohanui Strings (a Wellington music education programme based on the ‘El Sistema’ model) and works as a Community and Wellbeing Coordinator Manager at MIX, a mental health community service in Lower Hutt.

Richar strongly believes in the transformative power of the arts, and specifically music, on a global scale. His extensive experience working with government organisations within the educational system in Colombia as well as organisations abroad has strengthened his determination to use music to empower people to live in a better world.


Diary Dates

We would like to invite you, your family, whanau and friends, to the two concerts at the end of the intensive.

  • Winter event 15-19 July 2024 (four nights), in Nelson.
    • The first concert, on Thursday 18th July is at Nelson College, 67 Waimea Road, Nelson South, Nelson 7010.
    • The second concert, on Friday 19th July is at The Suter Art Gallery, 208 Bridge Street, Nelson 7010