Dr. Karen Grylls ONZM
A native of New Zealand, Karen comes to Exultate with a wealth of musical experience. Karen is Associate Head of Undergraduate Studies, Associate-Professor in Conducting and Head of Choral Studies at the University of Auckland. She directed the Auckland Dorian Choir (1985-1998) and assumed the position of Musical Director of TOWER NZ Youth Choir in 1989 and founded TOWER Voices NZ in March 1998. In addition to being the current Musical Director of both of these national choirs Karen also conducts the Chamber Choir at the University of Auckland and directs courses in choral ensemble skills.
A graduate of both Otago and Auckland Universities, Karen studied post-graduate Conducting and Music Theory at the University of Washington, Seattle where she studied for four years with Professors John Rahn, Abraham Kaplan and Joan Catoni-Conlon. In 1985 she returned to NZ to teach at the University of Auckland take up the directorship of the Auckland Dorian Choir.
As a result of her musical directorship, the prestigious National Youth Choir of NZ has enjoyed notable international successes including: the Silver Rosebowl in the “Let the Peoples Sing” radio competition in 1992, the “Choir of the World” at the 1999 International Eisteddfod in Llangollen and the “Grand Prix Slovakia” also in 1999. With equal success TOWER Voices NZ won first and second placings in the mixed choir section of the Tolosa International Choral Competition in October 1998. With these choirs, she has participated and won further prizes and accolades in Gorizia 2004, Marktoberdorf 2005, Wales and Cantonigrós 2007 where the Youth Choir was ranked the highest choir in the competition and gained 1st prize in the Mixed Choir Section. In August 2011, Voices NZ Chamber Choir was chosen to represent New Zealand at the 9th World Choral Symposium in Puerto Madryn, Argentina.
Karen is much in demand as a choral clinician and has many CD recordings to her credit.. Invitations to adjudicate have taken her to Australia, Singapore, Tolosa, Hong Kong, Gorizia and Xiamen. In 1996 the university honoured her with a Distinguished Teaching Award in Music and in 1999 she received a New Year’s Honour ONZM for her services to choral music. In May 2005 she was awarded an Artistic Leadership Scholarship Award 2005 from Creative NZ to attend the Seventh World Choral Symposium in Kyoto. She was awarded the KBB Citation for Services to NZ music from the Composers’ Association of NZ and the Lilburn Trust Award. TOWER Voices CD “Spirit of the Land” took the 2006 Tui Award for “Best Classical Album.”