New Zealand Youth Choir

About the New Zealand Youth Choir

New Zealand Youth Choir - History

The New Zealand Youth Choir (NZYC) has achieved considerable success since its formation in 1979. Performances in New Zealand and ten international tours including visits to the UK, Europe, Canada, USA, Australia, Singapore, Russia, the Republic of Korea and China have firmly established its reputation for consistency, energy and excellence. The Choir is comprised of around fifty 18 to 25-year-old singers and operates on a 3-year audition cycle. 

Founded by Guy Jansen who also became the first music director of the choir, NZYC gave its first public performance on Saturdy 25 August 1979 at St Peter's Church in Wellington. Almost 20 years later the choir stood on stage in front of 5,000 people in the small Welsh town of Llangollen to receive the award for 'Choir of the World'.

Historic highlights

1979: The ‘National Youth Choir’ of New Zealand is founded by Guy Jansen. As Music Director he invites Peter Godfrey as Guest Conductor.

1982: NYC performs at Wembley with Kiri Te Kanawa during their first international tour.

1983: Prof Peter Godfrey is appointed Music Director.

1986: NYC wins youth section of global competition ‘Let the Peoples Sing’.

1988: During the 2nd international tour to Europe NYC wins Best Choir at the International Festival of Youth and Music in Vienna and two second places at the Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod.

1989 Karen Grylls became Music Director.

1992 The Choir won the Silver Rose Bowl in the ‘Let the Peoples Sing’ competition as the best choir in a field of 26 choirs from 15 countries.

1993 The Choir represented New Zealand at the 3rd World Choral Symposium in Vancouver as part of a five-week North American tour.

1996 Tour to Australia, appearing at the 4th World Choral Symposium in Sydney.

1999 the New Zealand Youth Choir celebrated its 20th anniversary in Wellington with a concert with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra followed by an anniversary concert in the Wellington Town Hall, featuring Voices NZ and a massed choir of many graduate singers. One of the Choir’s greatest achievements was during its five-week international tour to Europe in June and July 1999. The highlight of this tour was winning the ‘Choir of the World’ title at the International Music Eisteddfod in Llangollen, Wales. A week later they won the ‘Grand Prix Slovakia’. The tour also included Ireland, the Czech Republic, Vienna, London and Singapore.

2001 International tour to Texas, USA, having been invited to perform at the biannual convention of the American Choral Directors’ Association.

2004 The Choir recorded a new CD, Gaude, which was released to critical acclaim in June. Gaude was nominated as finalist in the Best Classical Album category at the 2005 NZ Music Awards. In July 2004, on their tour of Europe, the New Zealand Youth Choir achieved highest marks in several categories at the 43rd International Choral Competition in Gorizia, Italy. Awards included Best Conductor at Competition for conductor Dr Karen Grylls, and Best Performance of an Unpublished Work (composed by Anna Griffiths, a member of the Youth Choir).

The 2005-2007 Choir returned from an award-winning tour through Canada, the UK and Spain, having taken podium placings at two International Choral Competitions in Llangollen, Wales and Cantonigros, Spain, including winning the Mixed Choir category in Spain.

2009 New Zealand Youth Choir’s 30th Anniversary year. During this year the Choir toured to Invercargill, Gore, Dunedin, Kapiti, Palmerston, Wellington, Warkworth and Auckland, reinforcing the truly national nature of this choir.

2010 International tour, performing at the World Expo in Shanghai, and giving concerts in Singapore, Seoul, Brisbane, Canberra and Sydney.

2011 David Squire was appointed Music Director.

2013 At the end of 2013 the Choir undertook an ambitious and much acclaimed three-week tour of the USA and Canada performing in Los Angeles, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Boston, New York and Washington.

2014 the New Zealand Youth Choir performed in the NZ Festival in Wellington – ‘…this concert was a timely reminder of the quality of choral singing we have in this country.’ Dominion Post

2016 During it's European Landmark Tour, NZYC won the GRAND PRIX at the 2016 IFAS in Pardubice Czech Republic and also all four categories it competed in.

The present Choir was selected from auditions held nationwide in November 2016.