The home of new zealand’s national choirs
“This is a story of vision and commitment in which eight themes can be traced. These themes are: high quality musical leadership, a culture of high sacrifice and high reward, challenging repertoire, good communication within all levels of the choir, improving musicianship, and the loyalty of audiences and sponsors.” – Choir of the World: Simon Tipping published by Dunmore Press 2002.
Choirs Aotearoa New Zealand Trust’s purpose is to create, nurture and promote vocal excellence in choral singing.
Our objective is to sustain and promote three complementary but distinct choirs; an internationally renowned professional choir – VOICES New Zealand , and two youth choirs, the New Zealand Youth Choir and New Zealand Secondary Students’ Choir, which inspire and develop New Zealand’s extraordinary young talent.
Photo: this background picture is a snapshot from the first rehearsal of the then National Youth Choir in August 1979 at Knox Church Hall in Lower Hutt.
2019 – Susan Densem (Music Director – NZSSC)
2011 – David Squire (Music Director – NZYC)
1989 – Dr Karen Grylls (Artistic Director)
1983 – 1988 Prof. Peter Godfrey (Music Director)
1979 – 1984 Prof. Peter Godfrey (Guest Conductor)
1982 – 1987 David Wood (Assistant Music Director)
1979 – 1982 Dr Guy Jansen (Music Director)
and under the management of:
2016 – Arne Herrmann
2010 – 2016 Roger Lloyd
2008 – 2010 Barbara George
2002 – 2007 Jenny Jamieson
2001 – 2002 Lucy Tod
2001 – 2001 Mark da Vanzo
1992 – 2001 Jacqui Simpson
1989 – 1992 Neil Henderson
1985 – 1988 Paddy Nash
1979 – 1984 Colin Brown
Our trustees and senior staff
Andrea Gray was appointed Chair of Choirs Aotearoa NZ Trust in April 2015. She has worked in the public and private sector in roles including knowledge and information management, introduction of web services to support business service delivery and relationship management. She is currently Deputy Chief Executive, Digital Assessment Transformation at NZQA. Andrea has a BMus, BA (Linguistics) and an MA (Library & Information Studies).
Andrea spent many years enjoying supporting her children in their musical endeavours, including a great deal of choral work at their respective secondary schools. This rekindled her desire to sing and she has been a member of the Orpheus Choir of Wellington and, intermittently, the Chorale ensemble of the Wellington Cathedral of St Paul since 2006.
Diana Cable has 24 years’ experience in the arts sector. After 4 years as an Industrial Relations Officer in the State Services Commission, Diana turned to the arts in 1986. One year managing Wellington City Opera was followed by 10 years as a Music Producer at Radio New Zealand Concert. She then worked as an independent producer for 7 years and was appointed as Artistic Administrator of the New Zealand International Arts Festival in 2003, after working for the Festival on a contract basis from 1997.
Having managed the Lexus Song Quest (formerly Mobil) since 1990, Diana also has considerable experience working with young singers.
Diana is a member of the Board of Trustees of Choirs Aotearoa New Zealand and Chair of its Artistic Advisory Group, a member of the Wellington Creative Communities grants committee and a Past President of the New Zealand Opera Society.
Diana is an alumnus of the New Zealand Youth Choir
Warwick Mitchell brings over twenty-five years involvement in choral singing and over twenty years in management of choral organisations including Royal Christchurch Musical Society, Christchurch City Choir and latterly the Auckland Choral Society. He is a current singing member of Auckland Choral and past Chairman having fulfilled this role for nine years until May 2010.
Business opportunities with the Freightways Group brought Warwick to Auckland in 1993 fulfilling a variety of roles including twenty years as a senior executive specialising in sales and marketing for the Post Haste Limited group of companies.
Warwick accepted an invitation to join the Board of Trustees of Choirs NZ in October 2009 with the intent of sharing his extensive experience in choral administration and marketing.
Les Foy heads up the specialist audit team at Crowe Horwath Wellington and is responsible for further developing the firm’s audit, financial management and consultancy practice.
His diverse experience covers both the government and private sectors, spanning a range of industries including, banking and finance, insurance, retail, investment, transportation, property, electricity, manufacturing and services.
Before joining Crowe Horwath in 2000, Les spent several years in Wellington developing his own management consultancy practice, which included clients operating in the commercial and government sectors. Prior to that Les gained substantial financial management, external audit and internal audit experience as a partner in KPMG and Arthur Andersen.’
Jennifer works as a General Practitioner in Timaru and has been an NZSSC Board member for six years. She was initially a Parent Representative when her daughter Eleanor became a Choir member. Jennifer stayed on as a Board member and has welcomed the opportunities to be involved with helping our young members fulfil their potential as choristers and as New Zealand representatives. Her daughter is now a member of the New Zealand Youth Choir and Jennifer feels privileged to remain on the Combined Board and be part of the continued delivery of excellent choral music in New Zealand.
Diccon Sim is a partner in Dunedin law firm, Gallaway Cook Allan. He studied Philosophy and Law at the University of Otago and also holds a Bachelor of Civil Law degree from Oxford University.
He was a member of the New Zealand Youth Choir from 1983 to 1988, and a member of its management committee during that time. A longstanding member of Dunedin’s St Paul’s Cathedral Choir, he has also sung as a tenor Vicar Choral in the choir of Wells Cathedral, and was a member of Schola Cantorum of Oxford during his postgraduate studies.
Diccon serves on the Board of Dunedin’s Selwyn College as well as the Boards of a number of trusts in the disability sector. He is also Chancellor of the Anglican Diocese of Dunedin and a Proprietor of St Hilda’s Collegiate School.
Diccon has been Choirs Aotearoa’s Honorary Solicitor for a number of years.
I have extensive experience in education that includes lecturing in pre-service teacher education, coordinating Professional Practice and the selection of teacher trainee intakes; teaching in a range of settings as a music specialist and classroom generalist in primary schools and the wider community.
Governance roles have included chairing Music Education New Zealand Aotearoa (MENZA), and the inaugural NZSM MMus Therapy post graduate programme external advisory board. Currently I am President and interim Chair for the Music Therapy New Zealand Council (MThNZ) and have recently been a member of the Registration Board. I am the national representative for MENZA on the International Society for Music Education (ISME) Council, and a member of the Advocacy working group.
My longstanding interest in supporting emerging talent includes young singers, and I have had the privilege of Chairing the NZSSC Trust Board for ten years. I am excited by the new opportunities that merging with CANZ brings, and look forward to working on the CANZ Board to further champion and expand the scope of the national choirs.
Amanda is currently a Leader of Learning at a Hamilton secondary school, predominantly focusing on Digital Technologies, and has previously worked in the commercial sector in a variety of accounting and IT roles.
She has been on the NZSSC Board since 2017 and is a parent representative. Her daughter Isabella is currently in her second cycle with the choir and is hoping to complete a third cycle before continuing on her choral pathway by auditioning for the New Zealand Youth Choir.
Amanda relishes her opportunity to be on the Board and to have first hand experience of the great opportunities and support offered to students by Choirs Aoteroa NZ.
Amanda Barclay is a lawyer and public servant based in Wellington.
She holds a Bachelor of Laws and Bachelor of Music from the
University of Otago, and a Masters in Law, (In House Practice) from
the College of Law in Sydney.
Amanda has been a member of all three national choirs; NZSSC,
National Youth Choir and Voices NZ, as well as being a member of the New Zealand Opera Chorus
and Wellington based Tudor Consort ensemble.
Gary is a Business Professional with 30 plus year’s experience in the technology sector. He has worked for large multinational IT organisations, a national Audio Visual solution provider and currently works for a global electronics firm in the role of National Sales Manager.
As a parent to 4 grown children, he has been actively involved in a number of artistic, sporting and educational organisations including 5 years as a member of the Suzuki Music Auckland Committee and nearly ten years supporting various volunteer positions at Epsom Girls Grammar School.
Gary became a Trustee to the NZ Secondary Students Choir (NZSSC) in 2017 and has recently accepted a similar role on the Board of Trustees for the newly converged Choirs Aotearoa.
Katie is an experienced secondary school educator, both in the classroom and as a mentor, head of department and professional development facilitator. She holds a BMus(Hons) in Performance Flute and a Masters in Education. Recent masters research explored the development of a bi-cultural pedagogy for music education in Aotearoa/New Zealand. Experienced choral director having worked with choirs such as the NZ Secondary Students’ Choir, Wellington Youth Choir, Sing Your Lungs Out (SYLO), the Wellington College Chorale and Wellington Young Voices.
Arne Herrmann has worked for over 20 years in Arts and Festival Management in New Zealand.
He held senior management positions at New Zealand Festival, Auckland Arts Festival, Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, UNITEC School of Performing and Screen Arts and the contemporary dance company The Human Garden. Arne was the Festival Director of the National Jazz Festival and Garden&ArtFest in Tauranga. His work also included the Lexus SongQuest, Michael Hill International Violin Competition, Wellington
Jazz Festival and National Youth Jazz Competition.
As freelance consultant Arne’s clients included the New Zealand Opera, Indian Ink Theatre, Te Matatini Kapa Haka Festival and the Hamilton Gardens Arts Festival.
Arne Herrmann took up the role as Chief Executive of Choirs Aotearoa New Zealand in May 2016.
Emma Billings has worked for Choirs Aotearoa NZ since April 2005, both in her current role as Operations Manager and previously as the Choir Administrator.
Emma came to the choirs after spending three years working for the Centre for Contemporary Arts (CCA) in Glasgow, Scotland, and previously for Arts Access Aotearoa and the Museum of Wellington City and Sea.
She has always been interested in arts management and completed a BA in Art History and BCA in Marketing at Victoria University of Wellington.
Anna studied languages and business at Waikato University and later, during years working and travelling in the UK, decided on a career in arts management.
Following postgraduate studies in Arts Administration, she worked in touring theatre production in the north of England.
On her return to New Zealand, Anna worked for Taki Rua Productions as Business Manager, producing ground-breaking theatre from Maori playwrights including Witi Ihimaera, Toa Fraser and Briar Grace-Smith, and touring Maori language plays to schools and kohanga reo throughout New Zealand. Anna joined NZSSC in 2009, working alongside Artistic Director Andrew Withington for nine years.
Ben Fagan is a poet, producer and marketer. He comes to Choirs NZ from a stint in London where he was the digital media coordinator for Apples and Snakes, the UK’s premiere spoken word poetry production company.
He is a Trustee of the National Youth Drama School, where he also holds the role of Assistant Artistic Director.
As a poet Ben has performed across the USA, UK and NZ, has taken two shows to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and had his first book published in 2017. In 2018 Ben co-founded Motif Poetry, a charitable trust dedicated to teaching and producing live poetry in Aotearoa.
He currently sings with Wellington choir Supertonic.
Dr Karen Grylls ONZM founded Voices New Zealand Chamber Choir in 1998 and the choir has achieved great acclaim internationally in performance and recording. She is Associate Professor in Choral Conducting at the University of Auckland and was Conductor and Artistic Director of the New Zealand Youth Choir from 1989 to 2011, and Artistic Director of Toronto’s Exultate Chamber Choir from 2011 to 2013.
In 1996 Auckland University honoured her with a Distinguished Teaching Award in Music and in 1999 she became an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit (ONZM) for her services to choral music. Karen is much in demand as an adjudicator for competitions worldwide, including the 48th International competition in Tolosa, the Marktoberdorf International Chamber Choir Competition, Bavaria, and The World Choir Games in Xiamen, China. She is sought internationally as a choral clinician and regularly conducts masterclasses and workshops in Wales, England, North America, Canada and Australia.
David Squire is one of New Zealand’s most prominent conductors, and Music Director of the New Zealand Youth Choir. Founding member and vice-chair of the New Zealand Association of Choral Directors, he is also a national conducting advisor and tutor, and a governance board member of the New Zealand Choral Federation.
David was appointed to the position of Music Director of the New Zealand Youth Choir in 2011, and is the first alumnus conductor of the choir. He has led the choir on two international tours, including the USA and Canada in 2013, which featured performances of the War Requiem by Britten in the Walk Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, as well as concerts in Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Boston, New York and Washington DC. In 2016 the choir gave concerts in Singapore, the Czech Republic, France and the UK. Tour highlights included singing high mass at Notre-Dame in Paris, a lunchtime concert at Windsor Castle, and producing a live DVD recording of a well-received concert at St Johns Smith Square in London. The choir also participated in the Festival of Academic Choirs in Pardubice, Czech Republic, winning every category it entered, as well as the prize for outstanding vocal culture, and then going on to win the Grand Prix.
In March 2011 he was awarded a New Zealander of the Year Local Heroes Medal for services to music education.
Susan’s professional singing career began in 1986 with Canterbury Opera, then continued as an opera singer and soprano soloist for many choral societies within New Zealand and Australia. She has toured extensively overseas performing with a number of ensembles and has been a soloist on many occasions for Sir David Willcocks.
After completing her music and teaching qualifications in Christchurch, she studied voice at the Queensland Conservatorium of Music. Susan is currently working as an ITM at Burnside High School where she teaches voice and conducts three award-winning choirs. She has also been Music Director of the Jubilate Singers and the University of Canterbury Chamber Choir (Consortia). As a chorister, she has sung in Voices New Zealand, NZ National Youth Choir, the Jubilate Singers and the Queensland University Chamber Singers.
Dates; NEXT ACADEMY PLANNED FOR JANUARY 2021
For the first time choristers had the chance to join a national academy of choral singing in 2019. Organised by
Choirs Aotearoa New Zealand, all three national choirs (NZ Secondary Students’ Choir, NZ Youth Choir, Voices NZ) were in residence and keen singers from around the country booked their place to experience these choirs in action, sit-in and sing with the choirs, and have access to their professional artistic staff for workshops in musicianship, vocal and conducting techniques.
Singers registered for one of these three groups:
– Group S: age 13-17, mirroring NZSSC
– Group Y: age 18-25, mirroring NZYC
– Group V: Adults (age 25+) with a good choral skill level, and a keen desire to advance their vocal and language skills.
Dr Karen Grylls
Dr Morag Atchison
Costs will be confirmed closer to the time*
*the cost of the academy registration covers the academy activities Fri-Mon, but does NOT cover food, transport or accommodation; a small booking/credit card fee will be added.
Tea and Coffee and some snacks will be made available during the tea breaks.
The Foundation is a charity created to build a capital endowment fund to future-proof New Zealand’s national choirs as they transform lives through and pursue excellence in choral music. This fund will help the choirs sing forever!
Find out more here.