development & mentoring project 

In 2021, we undertook a Development and Mentoring Project with the support of Creative New Zealand. 

The Development and Mentoring Project was an innovative and integrated choral development project which gave young musicians the opportunity to grow as conductors, accompanists and composers. The project also developed youth leadership skills and gave choir members the opportunity to gain experience in Arts administration and governance. We also began a long term impact and engagement programme to explore ways we can deepen our impact in Auckland.

D&M graphic.jpg

Emerging Conductor


An aspiring young conductor has the opportunity to gain experience working with a high quality choir and to receive mentoring from Rowan Johnston, one of Aotearoa’s most experienced and capable conductors.  As a member of the choir, the Emerging Conductor will get opportunities to conduct in rehearsal and in performance.


Blake Scanlen

Blake is a third-year student at the University of Auckland studying towards a Bachelor of Music in Composition. There he also studies Conducting with Dr Karen Grylls and Classical Performance Voice with Dr Te Oti Rakena. Blake has sung with the Auckland Youth Choir since 2019 and currently also sings with the New Zealand Youth Choir and Auckland Chamber Choir. He is the director of the Resound Youth Choir and is looking forward to working with AYC in 2021 as the Emerging Conductor. 



A talented musician studying piano will be mentored by our experienced accompanist and Assistant Director, Juan Kim, as well as having the opportunity to accompany the choir in rehearsals and performance. The Emerging Accompanist will also become a singing member of the choir.

Michelle Xu

Michelle is a fourth-year student undertaking a BA/BMus conjoint degree in Classical Piano, Philosophy, and Politics at the University of Auckland, where they studied piano performance under the tutelage of Associate Professor Rae de Lisle during the years 2018-2020. Their love for choral accompaniment began while they were a student at Wellington East Girls’ College, where they first assumed the role of student accompanist for the school’s auditioned choir at age 14.


Michelle would like to thank Rachel Fuller, whose recommendation lead them to this fantastic opportunity.

IMG_1495 (002).jpg

After receiving mentoring from our Music Directors and rehearsing with the choir, Blake and Michelle conducted and accompanied the choir singing Dirait-on by Morten Lauridsen in our July concert "Not Your Garden Variety".



2 young composer will receive a commission for a choral work which will be workshopped and performed by the choir. The young composer will receive mentoring from our Director of Music who has considerable experience in commissioning choral works. The composer will also sing in the choir. 

Reuben Rameka.jpg

Reuben Rameka

Reuben Rameka (b. 1997) is a music composer, arranger, performer, conductor, teacher and producer based in Auckland, New Zealand. He is primarily of Ngāpuhi and Te Arawa descent. 

He completed his Bachelors of Music degree in 2019 (majoring in composition) at the School of Music at the University of Auckland. While studying, his works were constantly performed and workshopped by professional ensembles and musicians. His works have been performed by the NZTrio, the ACE Brass trio and the Auckland Philharmonic Orchestra (APO). In 2019, Reuben was selected as the APO ‘Rising Star’ Young Composer-in-residence where he was commissioned to write three new pieces for the APO to premier. Reuben maintains a good relationship with APO and is currently composing new works for them and among other ensembles. In 2020, his work ‘Takoto mai rā’ won the Waiata Tira category in the Compose Aotearoa! choral composing competition. In 2020, he completed his graduate diploma in teaching, specialising in secondary music education. He currently works as a music teacher and choral director at his old secondary school, Aorere College.


Kitty Milner

Kitty is a fourth-year student at the University of Auckland currently studying Accounting and Composition and is also a member of AYC. AYC commissioned her first piece Isaiah in 2020, which was then performed at the Final Frontier concert in December. Kitty was brought up playing the piano, and, after moving to New Zealand in 2015, her school provided multiple opportunities for her to explore her passion for music which led her to pursue music at university. Kitty is very thankful for the opportunity to write another piece for AYC, and is very much looking forward to working with the choir again.

Due to the extended Auckland lockdown, we were unable to perform the two commissions in our planned October 2021 concert. The choir looks forward to performing "Ko Hinemoa Pea" by Reuben Rameka, and "White Linen" by Kitty Milner at our concert on Saturday 20 August.



The Chamber Choir is a smaller auditioned group of singers drawn from the full choir. The Chamber Choir’s purposes are to enable the performance of more demanding repertoire, create diversified concert programmes and further develop the musicianship of our singers. The Chamber Choir rehearses for an hour ahead of each full choir rehearsal.

The Chamber Choir were featured in our May "Our Sisters" concert and July "Not Your Garden Variety" concert. Performances included "Through Coiled Stillness" by Leonie Holmes, "Words for Wine" by Alice Chance, "Danny Boy" arr. Phillip Lawson, and "It was a Lover and His Lass" by Ward Swingle.

Impact & Engagement


Throughout 2021, AYC will develop an engagement plan which will guide it in broadening and deepening its impact within Tāmaki-makaurau. This plan will be founded on the aspirations of its choristers and operationalised by members of the Youth Arts Leadership programme to ensure that the outcomes and methods truly reflect AYC’s values as a youth cultural organisation.

Youth Arts Leadership Programme


Developing leaders will be critical to the successful operation of choirs in New Zealand. This programme will support youth involvement in the operational and administrational aspects of an Arts organisation. Participants may be members of the choir committee. Others may develop hands-on experience in specific aspects of the choir’s operations. An initial component of the programme has been the appointment of a Choir Manager from within the ranks of the choir.

Throughout 2021, members of the Youth Arts Leadership Programme developed:

  • Social media and marketing strategy for 2022

  • Section leader role and selection process for 2022

  • Social engagement and interaction plan for 2022

Conducting school


The AYC Conducting School will be open to young conductors from wider choral community. Conductors will get the opportunity to conduct and rehearse with the AYC Chamber Choir and receive feedback and training from our Director of Music, Rowan Johnston. Participants will also observe other conductors rehearse with the choir. Conductors will be sent a work in advance to prepare.

The Conducting School, planned for Monday 18th October, had to be cancelled due to the extended Auckland lockdown. We will reschedule the school in 2022.