Voices New Zealand Chamber Choir was formed in 1998 by the New Zealand Youth Choir Board, with Dr Karen Grylls as its first and only Artistic Director. As a nationally selected choir of the highest calibre, Voices is a chamber choir that is flexible in size, and capable of performing a wide repertoire. Many of the singers are alumni of the New Zealand Youth Choir.
The choir made its début at the 1998 New Zealand International Arts Festival in a recital with the New Zealand Chamber Orchestra and Keith Lewis. Later that year they won gold and silver awards at the Tolosa International Choral Competition in the Basque region of Spain. In March 1999, they performed the Fauré Requiem and Poulenc’s Gloria with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra. In 2000 they appeared at the New Zealand International Arts Festival in a solo recital and with the NZSO in Gluck’s Orphée et Eurydice. Their participation in the this Festival led to a collaboration with the prestigious Aradia Ensemble from Canada, resulting in the completion of a world premiere recording of the Vanhal Masses for Naxos. The recording was released to great critical acclaim in 2001. The choir represented New Zealand at the first Asia South Pacific Symposium on Choral Music in Singapore, where they undertook workshops, masterclasses, and gave the closing concert.
In March 2002 they undertook a sell-out solo recital at the New Zealand International Arts Festival, and appeared alongside the New Zealand Youth Choir in the closing concert. In January 2003 the choir recorded Hummel’s Missa Solemnis in C and Te Deum for Naxos. In October 2003 the choir presented highly-acclaimed concerts in Auckland, Hamilton and Napier, and in February 2004 recorded a CD of their Christmas repertoire which was released in November 2004.
In October 2004 the choir participated in the Otago Festival of the Arts, and concluded the year recording a CD which features New Zealand repertoire and composers - including two pieces commissioned especially for the choir with the assistance of Creative New Zealand. This CD, Spirit of the Land, won Best Classical Album at the 2006 NZ Music Awards.
In May 2005 the choir represented New Zealand at the 9th International Chamber Choir Competition in Marktoberdorf, Germany, and in July performed at the Arts Foundation Icon Awards. This was an acknowledgement of the work of Professor Peter Godfrey,a former Music Director of the New Zealand Youth Choir, who received an Icon Award.
In March 2007 Voices New Zealand held a workshop with students at Aorere College in Auckland. Voices worked with the school’s choirs and set up a mentoring programme for promising vocal students. This was a pilot project and proved to be very successful.
In 2008 Voices New Zealand performed a programme entitled The Poet at the New Zealand International Arts Festival and then later at the Taupo Arts Festival. The title work in the programme was composed for Voices and the New Zealand String Quartet by Jenny McLeod, setting poems by Janet Frame.
In 2009 Voices undertook its first self-presented concert tour of the Kapiti Coast, Wanganui and Palmerston North. The programme, Music for a While, proved a hit with audiences anxious to hear more. The Choir featured as a main attraction at the Sing Aotearoa conference in Rotorua and was conducted by Professor Simon Carrington from Yale University. For the Tauranga Artist Festival, Voices presented an a capella programme in the first half of the concert and were joined by the Opus Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Prof. Peter Walls for a performance of the Fauré Requiem. "Blend, tone, dynamics, clarity of diction, it was all there, immersing the audience in a sea of vocal excellence" (Bay of Plenty Times, Jeremy Whimster, October 2009).
In 2010 Voices joined several other choirs and the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra in a performance of Mahler's Symphony No 8, conducted by Vladimir Ashkenazy. This concert was the opening Gala performance of the NZ International Arts Festival in Wellington and it was broadcast live on a large screen in Civic Square and on the internet, reaching an audience of thousands.
This year Voices has toured to Auckland, Napier, Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin and Wanaka performing their own concerts and has toured nationally with the NZSO performing Beethoven’s 9th Symphony. In August, Voices represented New Zealand at the 9th World Symposium of Choral Music in Argentina.