Fiona Wilson has just been announced as the inaugural 2024 Assistant Conductor for Choirs Aotearoa New Zealand, the body that governs our four national choirs. This new role is part of a dedicated annual mentoring programme that will see Fiona working one-on-one with acclaimed New Zealand conductor and Choirs Aotearoa Artistic Director, Dr Karen Grylls (CMNZ). The programme is designed to develop future choral leaders for Aotearoa, and Karen will actively mentor Fiona for 12 months.
“The role of Assistant Conductor was hotly contested,” says Karen, “The calibre of applicants was impressive, which bodes well for a healthy future for choral music in Aotearoa. I’m delighted to announce that Fiona is the successful candidate for 2024. Many of the choirs she’s led have won competitions, here and overseas, and in April 2023, she represented New Zealand in the Conducting Masterclass at the World Choir Games in Istanbul.”
Fiona has been Head of Music at Westlake Girls High School for ten years during which time she’s earned the school half a dozen gold medals at the highly-competitive Big Sing Finale – New Zealand’s national choral festival for secondary schools. Fiona is also a singer and is currently a soprano in Voices New Zealand, our premier national chamber choir. Fiona has toured with Voices to the United Kingdom, Spain, France and Germany and performed with internationally acclaimed artists Eric Whitaker, The Kings Singers and Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, here and overseas. In her new role, Fiona will also work with Voices NZ as a conductor, including at the Compose Aotearoa workshops later in 2024 when she will work with the winners of the national choral composition competition.
“I’m excited to be selected for this new role and look forward to working with Karen Grylls, the other national choirs’ music directors and, of course, the talented members of our national choirs,” says Fiona. “I’ve always worked hard to empower singers to explore a diverse range of vocal colours and expressions and ignite a profound appreciation for music, enabling every member to thrive as both an artist and an individual”.
As well as Fiona’s work at Westlake Girls’, recent highlights include last year conducting competition pieces with Voices NZ and composers at CANZ Composers Workshop in Wellington and working with community choirs for the Northland region local community. In 2022, Fiona shadowed Karen Grylls as Chorus Master for Voices NZ in concert with Eric Whitacre and his award-winning work, The Secret Veil. In 2021, she was Chorus Master for Voices NZ in concert with the APO for ‘The Blue Planet’.
This year, Fiona’s been the Chorus Director for the recent New Zealand Opera Summer School and coming up soon, Fiona will be leading workshops and performance to open the Auckland Arts Festival in Choirs Aotearoa’s event Waiata Mai.