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Dr Karen Grylls ONZM – Artistic Director

Karen Grylls ONZM is Associate Professor in Choral Conducting at the University of Auckland. She conducted the New Zealand Youth Choir from 1989 to 2011, founded Voices NZ in 1998 and is currently Artistic Director of these two internationally acclaimed national choirs. From 2011 to 2013, Karen was also Artistic Director of Toronto’s Exultate Chamber Choir.
During her time at the University of Auckland, Karen has established a postgraduate pathway in Conducting at the Masters and Doctoral level. She received an Auckland University Distinguished Teaching Award in Music (1996), and an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit (ONZM) for her services to choral music (1999). She is also the recipient of two national citations for services to New Zealand music.
Karen is much in demand as an adjudicator for competitions and festivals worldwide, most recently in  Bali and Taipei, the 48th International competition in Tolosa, and the Marktoberdorf International Chamber Choir Competition, Bavaria. She is sought internationally as a choral clinician and regularly conducts masterclasses and workshops in Wales, England, North America, Canada, Singapore and Australia. In August 2019 Karen was a plenary speaker  at the Oxford Conducting Institute and at the Sydney Conservatorium Conference.

Robert Wiremu - Artistic Advisor
Robert Wiremu (Kahungunu and Tūwharetoa) is a musician with breadth of range and abilities. Growing up in a musical family, he was exposed early to church music, spontaneous family singing, and kapa haka. He then formalised his studies in western classical music at Victoria University of Wellington, the University of Auckland, and The Queensland Conservatorium of Music.
In 1998, Robert returned to the University of Auckland to take up a faculty position.
As an experienced baritone chorister, soloist and recording artist with all the national choirs, Robert is now in considerable demand as a teacher, repertoire coach, vocal consultant, adjudicator and artistic advisor.
Robert has collaborated with many of Āotearoa’s most distinguished artists, including the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, the New Zealand String Quartet, Dames Kiri Te Kanawa, Malvina Major, and Gillian Whitehead, Sir Howard Morrison, Drs Karen Grylls and Simon O’Neill, and Professor Michael Parekōwhai.
As a pedagogue, he is very interested in language - meaning and function, creating the Wiremu Vowel Clock as an alternate diction model. As a composer/arranger, Robert has a particular interest in connecting Māori stories/New Zealand stories with the classical stage, particularly -though not exclusively- through Opera in the Pā, as artistic advisor for Choirs Āotearoa NZ, and in his governance board role with the New Zealand Choral Federation. Whether performing, teaching, or writing, storytelling is the culmination of all his interests.


Dr. Charles Te Ahukaramū Royal
Te Ahukaramū Charles Royal is an independent researcher and consultant, and a freelance composer, musician and storyteller. He is passionate about the ‘creative potential’ of indigenous knowledge and communities which he explores through research, teaching and advising, and through music and story.
Charles has written/edited six books and ten reports on aspects of mātauranga Māori and iwi histories and traditions. He is also the founder and leader of whare tapere – iwi based ‘houses’ of storytelling, dance, games, music and other entertainments – which takes place in Hauraki. Previously he was a Director at Te Papa Tongarewa Museum of New Zealand, Director of Graduate Studies and Research at Te Wānanga-o-Raukawa, Ōtaki, and Professor of Indigenous Development and Director, Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga, University of Auckland.
Charles belongs to Marutūahu, Ngāti Raukawa and Ngā Puhi.

Ataahua Papa
Ataahua Papa joined Auckland Arts Festival as Kaihautū Māori / Director of Māori Programming and Language in August 2020, bringing with her a wealth of knowledge about tikanga Māori along with an impressive background in the arts as a practitioner, performer and more recently, an organiser. She is fluent in te reo, and prior to joining the Festival was Festival Director at Matariki Festival, as part of her role as Arts & Culture Pou Arahi Māori at Auckland Council.
Working as a cultural consultant on Māori and indigenous issues, Ata lived in North America for over a decade, and has done everything from delivering powhiri on behalf of the UNDP to serving as the Māori cultural adviser and language teacher to the Pacific curator at the American Museum of Natural History (NYC) and guest starring with the First Nations Women's A Cappella Trio, Ulali.

Dr. Opeloge Ah Sam
Opeloge Ah Sam has been involved in choral music from the age of 6 when he used to sit next to grandfather Apulu Opeloge every Sunday at the church organ in Samoa. Since then, he has worked as Music Director at various churches in NZ, Samoa, Australia, choir director of the Coca-Cola Christmas in the Park, NZ Music Awards as well as having worked with the Auckland Gospel Choir and more...
He is currently the Head of Music at Kaitaia Abundant Life School in the beautiful Far North of NZ where he also directs the recently formed Kaitaia Community Voices. Opeloge is a believer in the power of music to heal, to provide joy and happiness in our daily lives. He completed his PhD in Music Composition at the University of Victoria in 2019 looking at how music Composition and Performance is an expression of Samoan identity.

Horomona Horo
Composer, practitioner and cross genre collaborator, Horomona Horo has fused the traditional instruments of the Maori, taonga puoro (singing treasures), within a diverse range of cultural and musical forms. Mentored by tohunga (experts) of taonga puoro, the late Dr Hirini Melbourne and Richard Nunns, in 2001, Horo won the inaugural Dynasty Heritage Concerto Competition and in the intervening years has become the international Maori face of Taonga Puoro.  Performances include orchestral work with the Weimarer Staatskapelle Orchestra, hip-hop with Pao Pao Pao, Opera in the Park with Kiri Te Kanawa, guest artist at the 90th Commemorations of the Battle of Passchendaele, and international tours with Moana and the Tribe, Canti Maori, Irish collaboration - Green Fire Islands and the Voices NZ Chamber Choir have enabled Horomona to extend his knowledge and skills across diverse genres whilst remaining a cultural and musical educator in his own right.

David Hamilton
David Hamilton was Head of Music at Epsom Girls Grammar School until the end of 2001. He has been Deputy Music Director of Auckland Choral (1996-2011) and Composer-in-Residence with the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra (1999). He works part-time in music education as a composition tutor and choral conductor.
He is well-known as a choral composer and conductor, workshop leader and adjudicator. His choral music is widely performed, and is published in the UK, USA, Germany, Spain and Finland. His music has won numerous composer competitions in New Zealand, and also in Italy (2000), the USA (2005, 2006, 2008, 2016 and 2019), Israel (2007), and the UK (2008). In 2018 he was awarded the annual SOUNZ Community Commission. In 2020 “Night Songs III” won the Delta Omicron Composition Competition (USA), works took 1st, 2nd and 3rd places in the IX Amadeus International Choral Composition Competition 2020 (Spain), “Canticle 6” won the Philip Neill Memorial Prize (NZ), and “Whirligig” won the Orpheus Music Composition Competition 2020 (Australia). In 2021 “A Celestial Map of the Sky” won the Claremont Chorale composition contest (USA).


Sofi Jeannin – Sweden/UK
Energetic, sensible, fun, charming and a phenomenally inspiring conductor of singers and orchestras alike, Sofi Jeannin is currently Chief Conductor of the BBC Singers, a post she formally took up in September 2018 – the first female in the role. With an easy authority and comfortable familiarity across many genres of music, Jeannin is able to bring new life to today’s classics, drawing out new and exciting sound worlds from those she works with. Equally at home with contemporary music, and extended vocal techniques, Sofi Jeannin is one of the most versatile choral conductors around today, gleaning a wealth of experience from her time with the French Radio Chorus, and la Maîtrise de Radio France, where she continues as Music Director, as well as her background as a classically-trained mezzo.

Christian Grases - Venezuela/USA
Venezuelan native Cristian Grases is an associate professor of choral music at University of Southern California, conductor of the USC Thornton Concert Choir, and Chair of the Department of Choral and Sacred Music. As a sought-out conductor, clinician, academic, and adjudicator, he has traveled to Europe, North and South America, Asia, and Australia, conducting in prestigious halls such as Carnegie Hall, and presenting in numerous international conventions and symposia. Grases is also an award-winning composer whose works have been commissioned and sung by numerous prestigious ensembles around the world. Grases served as the Vice-President for Latin America of the International Federation for Choral Music until December, 2021, and was the the chair of the Ethnic Music Repertoire and Resources Committee for the Western Division of the American Choral Directors Association (2009-2018). He currently serves in many international committees including the artistic committee for the World Youth Choir and the World Symposium on Choral Music, Qatar, 2023-24.

André de Quadros – USA
Dr André de Quadros is a conductor, ethnomusicologist, music educator, writer, and human rights activist. His professional work has taken him to the most diverse settings in over 40 countries, spanning professional ensembles, and projects with prisons, psychosocial rehabilitation, refugees and asylum-seekers, poverty locations, and victims of torture, sexual violence, and trauma.
He is a professor of music at Boston University, where he holds affiliations in African, African American, Asian, Jewish, Muslim studies, and prison education. He is also affiliated with the university’s Center for Antiracist Research.
He directs the Manado State University Choir (Indonesia), Common Ground Voices (Jerusalem), VOICES 21C (Boston), and the Muslim Choral Ensemble (Sri Lanka). He co-directs Common Ground Voices / La Frontera (Tijuana/San Diego) and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization Countries Youth Choir (Shanghai). He is co-founder and creative director of The Choral Commons, an international media platform.
André de Quadros has edited and contributed to The Cambridge Companion to Choral Music (Cambridge University Press); and authored Focus: Choral Music in Global Perspective (Routledge). He is general editor of the Carmina Mundi series of Carus-Verlag; editor of Cantemus, Salamu Aleikum: Choral Music of the Muslim World, and Music of Asia and the Pacific all published by Earthsongs (USA); and Songs of the World published by Hinshaw Music (USA).In 2019, he was a Distinguished Academic Visitor at Queens’ College, University of Cambridge.
Prior to his American appointments, he was a professor at Monash University, Melbourne. He is the 2021 recipient of Chorus America’s Brazeal Wayne Dennard Award to recognize his work in social justice.