Three international and four local choral presenters will work with the Choral Connect delegates. In addition, André Thomas will also work with our two national guest choirs.
André Thomas – Guest Conductor and Choral Clinician
Dr André Thomas is Director of Choral Activities and Professor of Choral Music Education at The Florida State University. André received his degrees from Friends University (B.A.), Northwestern University (M. M.), and the University of Illinois (D.M.A). He is in high demand as an international choral adjudicator, clinician, and director of Honour/All-State Choirs throughout the United States, Europe, Asia and Australia.
André has conducted choirs at the state, division, and national conventions of the Music Educators National Conference (MENC) and American Choral Directors Association (ACDA). His international conducting credits are extensive.
André has also distinguished himself as a composer/arranger and is a past president of the Florida ACDA, and the past president of the Southern Division of ACDA.
Ēriks Ešenvalds – Composer-in-Residence
The Latvian Ēriks Ešenvalds (b. 1977) is one of the most sought-after choral composers working today, with a busy commission schedule and performances of his music heard on every continent. After study at the Latvian Baptist Theological Seminary and the Latvian Academy of Music, he was from 2002-2011 a member of the State Choir "Latvija". In 2011 he was awarded the two-year position of Fellow Commoner in Creative Arts at Trinity College, Cambridge University.
Ēriks also undertakes many international residencies working on his music and lecturing. His compositions appear on recordings from Trinity College Choir, Cambridge on the Hyperion label and from VOCES8 on Decca Classics, amongst others. We are delighted to be welcoming him to New Zealand for the first time.
Read more about Ēriks and listen to his music here
Dr Karen Grylls ONZM – Artistic Director and Choral Clinician
Associate Professor in Conducting and Programme Coordinator (Choral) at the University of Auckland, Dr Karen Grylls is Artistic Director of the New Zealand Youth Choir and Voices New Zealand Chamber Choir. Through her work with the Auckland Chamber Choir and her teaching at the University of Auckland, she has created the pathway for tertiary, doctoral study in choral conducting. Karen is the Chair of the NZCF Association of Choral Directors and Artistic Director of Choral Connect.
Through her work with the Auckland Chamber Choir and her teaching at the University of Auckland, she has created the pathway for tertiary, doctoral study in choral conducting. Karen is the Chair of the NZCF Association of Choral Directors and Artistic Director of Choral Connect.
James Cuskelly – World-renowned Kodály expert
Dr James Cuskelly is Head of Faculty: Creative Arts and Design Studies at St Aidan’s Anglican Girl’s School, Brisbane, President of the International Kodály Society, Director of the Summer School Music Program, and Director of the Cuskelly College of Music.
James has a very broad base in education, having taught in Kindergarten, pre-school, primary and secondary classrooms as well as in tertiary institutions. His passion for music and his ability to enthuse and bring about effective learning in students across all ages and abilities is highly regarded.
James is considered a global leader in music education and he directs internationally-recognised programs including the Summer School Music Program (Brisbane) and Australian Kodály Certificate programs in Malaysia, Perth and New Zealand and Indonesia.
Watch James Cuskelly on his experience with the Kodály method
Leonie Holmes – composing strand
Dr Leonie Holmes is an Auckland-based composer, writing for orchestra, chamber, choral, vocal and solo instrument. Her orchestral music has been released on the Atoll CD Solstice, with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra conducted by Marc Taddei. Leonie is currently Senior Lecturer in Composition and Music studies at the School of Music, University of Auckland.
Stemming from her work as Composer-in-Schools in the 1990s, she is also interested in music education and in developing a musical language that will engage and challenge non-professional players. She has written many works for school and community groups and is active as a speaker, adjudicator and teacher at all levels and age groups within the New Zealand music community.
Leonie was a member of the Composers Committee, Centre for New Zealand Music (SOUNZ) 1996-1997, co-ordinator of the Nelson Composers Workshop 2001-2002, and is a member of the Composers Association of New Zealand (CANZ).
Peter Watts – conducting strand
Twenty years as Music Director of Auckland Choral gave Peter the opportunity to work with many of New Zealand’s leading soloists and orchestras and conduct much of the repertoire for large choir and orchestra.
He was also Deputy Music Director of the NZ National Youth Choir for seven years and has worked with many other choirs around the country.
Peter is regularly heard as a pianist in concerts with vocalists and in chamber music. He teaches at the Auckland University School of Music and also examines internationally for Trinity College, London. In 2005 he was awarded the MNZM for services to Choral Music.
Other presenters include Rowan Johnston (conducting) - bio to follow soon.
More details, including presenters for the Interest Sessions, will be provided in due course.