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NZ’s national choirs go global in July

02 Jul 2024
July is a busy month for our four national choirs, Voices NZ, NZ Youth Choir, NZ Secondary Students’ Choir and the Aotearoa NZ Academy Choir, with each taking part in international projects.

On 13 July, New Zealand Youth Choir (NZYC), our best singers aged 18–25, is heading to the pitch at Eden Park to sing the national anthems before the All Blacks vs England test match, while on the 15th and 16th July, NZYC and Voices NZ, our foremost professional choir, take part in a huge, immersive concert to celebrate MatarikiThe world premiere of Matariki He Kāhui Reo features eight choirs, five composers, three lyricists and a kapa haka rōpū. It’s Aotearoa’s key contribution to the World Choir Games 2024, when over 11,000 singers from more than 30 countries meet in Auckland, and Dr Karen Grylls, Director of Voices NZ and Artistic Director for Choirs Aotearoa NZ, is a juror.


Matariki He Kāhui Reo was devised by John Rosser, Robert Wiremu and Ataahua Papa and celebrates the nine whetū of the Matariki cluster. Sung entirely in te reo Māori, with English narration and screen translations, the repertoire combines the talents of five of New Zealand’s most exciting choral composers, David Hamilton, Anthony Ritchie, Chris Artley, Rosa Elliott and Reuben Rameka – all current members or alumni of the national choirs – who have set texts by Tuirina Wehi, Ataahua Papa and Rangi Mātāmua to music. Voices NZ will perform a moving work by young composer and NZYC-member Rosa Elliot, while NZYC sings a piece by alumnus Anthony Ritchie. 


When the New Zealand Secondary Students’ Choir (NZSSC) heads to Shanghai, Hangzhou and Beijing, where they’re performing at the 17th China International Chorus Festival, a little piece of Reuben Rameka (Ngāpuhi, Te Arawa) will also accompany them – a recent commission that Rameka wrote specifically for NZSSC, ‘Te Mōteatea o Hōne Heki Pōkai’, will be performed by the choir in China. In the lead-up to their travels, NZSSC presents a farewell concert in Auckland, 5 July. The diverse repertoire includes Rameka’s piece alongside a traditional Chinese folk song, ‘Mò Lì Huā’, sung by NZSSC in Mandarin. Under the direction of Sue Densem, NZSSC gathers our finest voices (14–18yrs) from across Aotearoa and offers a once in a lifetime opportunity—a two-year membership to learn from top vocal teachers that culminates in an international tour; this time it’s China from 6th to 20th July. The 51-strong choir includes five Chinese/NZ members: Kilian Casey, Olivia Jade Lai, Sofia Gong, Shannon Shi, Ivan Ho, four of whom speak Mandarin.


The only national choir to compete in the World Choir Games is New Zealand’s newest choir, the Aotearoa New Zealand Academy Choir – founded just last year and made up of 86 singers, aged 18–25, from all the country. The choir will be competing in the games from 10–13 July.


5 July               NZ Secondary Students Choir farewell concert, St Matthew-in-the-City, Auckland,7:30pm, info & tickets here


10–13 July       Aotearoa Academy Choir competing at the World Choir Games, more info here


13 July             NZ Youth Choir sings for the All Blacks vs England, Eden Park, 7pm.


15 & 16 July    Matariki He Kāhui Reo, featuring NZ Youth Choir and Voices NZ, Holy Trinity Cathedral, Auckland,7:30pm, info & tickets here