The Director of Music for The Graduate Choir NZ is Terence Maskell, who has been the conductor since the choir’s inception in 2001. For over nine years he was the conductor of the Auckland Youth Choir (a group which won numerous international awards under his direction), relinquishing this position in early 2001 to take up the role of Director of Music of The Graduate Choir NZ. His choirs, which perform regularly on television and are Radio NZ Concert artists, have toured in NZ and overseas, and he has acted as guest conductor, accompanist (piano and organ), soloist (countertenor), adjudicator, choral arranger and clinician on numerous occasions.
He has served as organist, choral director and music teacher at King’s College, Otahuhu and was formerly Director of Music at Aorere College, Papatoetoe for twenty years, establishing a firm national and international reputation for fine choral groups there.
In this capacity he has developed over the years a particular and intimate understanding of teaching and training singers from within the Polynesian cultures. He is currently freelancing in piano and choral direction in a number of Auckland schools, his school choirs continuing to feature amongst the top choirs in the country. Through his insightful direction over the years Terence Maskell has developed with the singers a sense of commitment to the music and focus in communication. Terence Maskell has said this of his singers:
"The singers bare their souls every time they stand to sing - it is one of the most exposed forms of musical expression. Singers have a privilege - they have text to sing, and this implies communication. Singers in The Graduate Choir NZ have always impressed with their ability to communicate and to move, to invite the listener to share in the emotion of the performance; it is a gift from singer to listener"
THE SINGERS OF THE GRADUATE CHOIR NZ
The Graduate Choir NZ is a mixed-voice choir of normally around 36 singers representing a mostly younger demographic and a wide range of the cultural and ethnic mix that makes Auckland unique.
Singers come from all walks of life – those in the work-force through to high school students – some with high levels of musical and vocal expertise and others who have less experience. The choir is also proud to have several singers – past and present - who are (or have been) members of the national choirs in NZ – and this is something that is encouraged. Amongst illustrious alumni of the choir are brothers Pene and Amitai Pati; both are now pursuing exciting operatic careers at the San Francisco Opera, and both began singing as young teenagers with The Graduate Choir NZ.
The choir has a performed a vast repertoire of choral works, earning glowing reviews and enhancing its musical stature here and overseas. Its reputation for performances of choral music at its best, for the musical integrity it brings to its repertoire, and for the warmth and breadth of its sound have given rise to more invitations to perform here and overseas than it can realistically accept.
The choir is fortunate to count amongst its ranks singers who have special musical talents and skills – most notably:
Kriss Rapana – (countertenor) a foundation member of the choir who brings an enormous taonga (gift) and aroha (love) to the choir in his deep understanding of the teaching and performance of Māori music.
Christopher Artley – (baritone) whose wonderful accompaniment skills (piano) are highly valued. Originally from Leeds in England, Chris is now regarded as one of NZ’s finest contemporary composers. His compositions have received world-wide recognition – winning several prestigious competitions – and the choir has been delighted to perform many of these beautiful pieces over the years.