Over 30 years nuturing our finest young voices
The New Zealand Secondary Students Choir began as a choral course for secondary students in the 1960s, with its first performance in 1967, with the Wesley Chapel Choir, in Wellington, under the musical direction of Malcolm Rickard.
In 1986 Dr Guy Jansen formed the first New Zealand Secondary Students Choir as a training ground for the (then) New Zealand National Youth Choir. Since 1988 a new choir has been nationally auditioned every second year, and every choir has acquitted itself with distinction on national and international stages. The choir was formally established as a Charitable Trust in 1997.
In 1988 Roger Stevenson was appointed Musical Director, remaining with the choir until 2000. During this time, he led tours on three occasions to Hawaii from which the choir returned with Gold Awards, twice to Australia, to Singapore in 1994 where NZSSC performed with the Singapore Youth Choir and for his final tour, in 2000, all the way across Canada (from Ottawa to Edmonton) at the invitation of the Canadian Government as part of the Millennium Celebrations.
Elise Bradley was appointed as Musical Director for the 2001-2002 choir and remained with the choir until 2007, when she took up the role of Artistic Director of the Toronto Children’s Chorus. In 2002, the choir took part in the Australian National Choral Association conference in Brisbane.
In 2004, the choir toured to the Oregon Bach Festival in Eugene, Oregon, USA and then to the International Choral Kathaumixw in Powell River, British Columbia, Canada. In Canada the choir took three first place awards (Mixed Voice Adult Choir, Youth Choir and Folk & Cultural Traditions). In this, the 11th biennial Kathaumixw, NZSSC earned more awards than any other choir in any year of competition over the history of the competition, a record which still stands.
The 2005-2006 choir competed in the Hong Kong International Youth & Children’s Festival where it took the top award and won the title “The World’s Choir”. Following this the choir traveled to Xiamen, China, where it competed in the World Choir Games, gaining a Gold Award (Champion Mixed Voice Youth Choir) and a Silver Award (Folk and Ethnic Music). Significantly, 148 choirs performed during the first week of these ‘olympics’ and of these only 8 received championship awards.
During the inter-regnum of 2007-2008, Robert Wiremu took over the role of Artistic Director, leading the choir on its tour to Brazil and Argentina. The choir participated in the Melodia 08! Music Festival and sang in Rio de Janeiro, Petropolis, Buenos Aires and La Plata.
Late in 2008, Andrew Withington was appointed Musical Director. The 2009-2010 choir toured to Canada, again achieving great success at the International Choral Kathaumixw. The choir won the Adult Mixed Voice competition and came second in both Youth Choir and Folk And Cultural Traditions competitions. A new award was created especially for the NZSSC, the People’s Choice Award, as a result of the way thousands of people at the Kathaumixw responded to their music, as evidenced by standing ovations at every concert, including some audiences of over 2000 people.
The 2011-12 choir sang in Auckland, in Christchurch as part of the Christchurch Arts Festival and Christchurch Sings, the one year commemoration to the September 2010 earthquake, in Ashburton, in Napier, and in Wellington. Andrew Withington led the choir on a tour to the Ihlombe Music Festival in South Africa, singing alongside international and South African choirs. This was an extraordinary musical and cultural experience for our members.
The 2013-2014 choir sang in Wellington, Tauranga, Auckland, Queenstown, Wanaka, Alexandra, Christchurch. Highlights included performing at the ANZAC Dawn Parade in Wellington, 2014, and appearing on What Now children's television show! The choir toured to Singapore, performing at the Orientale Concentus Festival, and in Malaysia.
The 2015-2016 New Zealand Secondary Students Choir enjoyed a very successful international tour to the International Choral Kathaumixw Festival in Powell River, British Columbia, Canada. NZSSC was the 2016 Guest Choir at this prestigious festival that features choirs and soloists from around the world. The festival finale was a massed choir concert of one thousand voices led by the innovative Finnish conductor, Sanna Valvanne.