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Picture of Uwe Grodd, Auckland Choral Music director, with a conductor's batonUwe Grodd enjoys an international reputation as a conductor. He has won a number of significant awards including First Prize at the Cannes Classical Awards 2000 and two Gramophone Editor’s Choice in the UK. He has performed in Handel Festivals and conducted a season of Handel’s recently re-discovered opera Imeneo in Germany. Besides helping to promote little-known but important composers of the past, he is strongly committed to the music of our own time.

A graduate of Mainz University, Germany, Uwe studied with teachers of international repute. A strong musical influence during his study was choral specialist Helmut Rilling during several summer courses at the Bach Akademie in Uwe’s hometown of Stuttgart. He attributes his major musical growth to the guidance of two of Europe’s finest musicians, Robert Aitken and Maestro Celibidache.

Uwe gained worldwide attention when he won First Prize at the Cannes Classical Awards 2000 for Best 18th Century Orchestral Recording with his CD of Vanhal Symphonies on which he conducted Hungary’s Nicolaus EsterházySinfonia. Two recordings of music by J N Hummel, one featuring the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, earned him Gramophone magazine’s Editor’s Choice. He has had an exclusive recording contract with the Naxos label since 1997.

Uwe Grodd’s ambition to conduct and record the Complete Works for piano and orchestra of Beethoven’s longstanding friend and student Ferdinand Ries (1784-1838) began in 2003. November 2012 marked the international launch of the fifth and final volume with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra and pianist Christopher Hinterhuber on the Naxos label. The first four volumes feature the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, Sweden’s Gävle Symphony, the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, UK  and include a remarkable set of variations for piano and orchestra of Rule Britannia. Uwe agrees with FANFARE USA Magazine which wrote: ‘Thus, slowly, Ries is finally occupying the place in music history that is rightly his.’ He believes these recordings will transform people’s understanding of a composer who still lives in the shadow of Beethoven’s genius.

Performance highlights in recent years include the final concerts of the 53rd and the 54th Händel Festival in Halle, Germany. This prestigious event – a televised open-air concert – involves a combined choir of 280 and the Philharmonisches Staatsorchester Halle. In his first year, Uwe conducted the gala opening night of the Händel Festival Halle with Le Choeur des Musiciens du Louvre from Grenoble, a number of frontline soloists and the Halle Opera Orchestra performing on original instruments. This was followed in 2003 and 2004 with a sell-out, highly successful season in the Halle Opera House of Händel’s recently rediscovered opera Imeneo. Uwe Grodd was awarded the Badge of Honor by the Mayor of Halle – Handel’s birth town –  for his services to the Handel Festival and the City of Halle.

Uwe made his Mexican debut in March 2004 with the Mexico City Philharmonic, conducting Beethoven’s First Symphony, Liszt’s Mazeppa and Dvorak’s Czech Suite. He returned in June that year to conduct Bruckner’s Fourth Symphony, and another eight concerts featuring Beethoven’s and Schubert’s Fifth Symphonies and Richard Strauss’ Ein Heldenleben.

In 1993 Uwe was appointed Music Director of the Manukau Symphony Orchestra, and between 1998 and 2002 acted as Artistic Director of the International Music Festival New Zealand. He was invited to become Music Director of the Auckland Choral Society, New Zealand’s longest-established symphonic choir, in July 2008. Uwe Grodd is an Emeritus Professor at The University of Auckland’s School of Music.

 

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Who we are: Get to know some of our choir members

  • Maria Millar

    Picture of Maria MillarHi! I'm Maria Millar. I'm an Alto 1, and also convener of the Auckland Choral Music Committee. I first joined Auckland Choral in 2015, in time for the Missa Solemnis. I come from a musical home, with a Dad who played Organ at church and piano for the local pantomines and performances. Thanks to his influence, I've sung for most of my life. I studied singing with Margaret Medlyn when I lived in Wellington, as well as singing simultaneously with both the Bach Choir and the Orpheus Choir. I was also a performer in two International Festival of the Arts operas: Salome and Madam Butterfly. I lived in Sydney for three years, and stepped away from the predominantly classical choir style, and sang with the gay & lesbian choir, whose repertoire was more contemporary in nature. Then, in 2001 I moved to London, and while there returned to my classical roots and sang with the Wimbledon Choral Society for a number of years. I took a bit of a break from singing when my two children came along, finding it a struggle to juggle full time work and a young family. It was when we finally moved back to NZ in 2014 that I decided it was time to get back into singing. I returned to singing lessons under the tutelage of Claire Martin, and joined the Auckland Choral Society, which was exactly what I was looking for. By day, I work as a marketing researcher and strategist, a job which I've been doing for 20 years, and which has taken me all over the world. When I'm not working or singing, my happy place is in the kitchen. I love to bake - bread, cakes, anything!

     

     
  • Luis Garcia

    Picture of Luis GarciaOriginally from Leon Mexico, Luis joined Auckland choir in 2013. He is a system engineer with great passion for singing. When he went to listen to the choir practice in an open rehearsal for the first time, he was enchanted by it, and he’s been singing with the choir ever since. His favorite concert has been “Dream of Gerontius” composed by Sir Edward Elgar in 1900. He joined the choir as a Bass and two years later he made the transition to Tenor. 

    Luis first studied overseas in 2005 when he enrolled in an English course at the Australian College of English in Sydney. He’s currently involved in a program by the New Zealand Ministry of Education to upgrade the schools' wireless systems all across the country. Luis is very passionate about music, technology, science, spirituality and meditation.

     
  • Rachel Kania

    Picture of Rachel 
KaniaHi, I’m Rachel. (‘Arty Rach’ as opposed to ‘Curly Rach’ – There are two of us!)
    This is my 8th year with Auckland Choral and I LOVE IT! LOVE IT! LOVE IT!
    My competing passions are swimming and painting. I also dabble in poetry and am launching into a German language class this year.
    Singing with Auckland Choral gives me balance in my life and contributes to my physical and mental wellbeing. (…and of course, my social life!)
    I am so grateful to Uwe, Elizabeth and all my choir friends for welcoming me so warmly into the ‘family’.

     
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