John Rosser has been Viva Voce's conductor since it's inception in 1984. Today he is supported in his role by an executive committee that includes Cathryn Wyllie as choir administrator and Alex Urquhart as Treasurer. The executive committee together with the choir's policy group meets regularly to plan and manage choir activities.
A professional musician, John graduated from the University of Auckland with MA (Doub Hons) in Classics, gained his LTCL in performance singing and trained as a choral conductor under Professor Peter Godfrey. A founder member of both the National Youth Choir and the New Zealand Singers, he helped form the Summer Singers, a professional student choir, and later the Auckland Youth Choir before establishing Viva Voce as his own vehicle in 1985. He has conducted the choir ever since, performing well over 1000 separate works in nearly 100 individually-themed concerts.
In 1996, John was appointed Opera New Zealand’s Chorus Master and since then has prepared Lucia di Lammermoor, Tosca, Turandot, Il Trovatore, Verdi’s Requiem, La Cenerentola, Macbeth, La Bohème, Cavalleria Rusticana and I Pagliacci for that company, Carmen for Alan Smythe Special Events; Fidelio and Elijah for the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra: La Clemenza di Tito and Orfeo ed Euridice for the Auckland Chamber Orchestra; and Madama Butterfly, Aida, Die Fledermaus, Manon, Viva Verdi!, Falstaff, Carmen to Carmina, Le Nozze di Figaro, Les Pêcheurs de Perles, Boris Godunov, Tosca, L’Elisir d’Amore, Rigoletto, Carmen, The Death of Klinghoffer, Don Giovanni, La Traviata, Die Zauberflöte, Faust, Lucia di Lammermoor, Fidelio, Turandot, La Bohème, Jenufa and L’Italiana in Algeri for The NBR New Zealand Opera, for whom he is now Associate Conductor and Chorus Master.
He has subsequently appeared as guest conductor for such groups as the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, St Matthew’s Chamber Orchestra, Auckland Sinfonietta, Hamilton Civic Choir, South Auckland Choral Society, Rotorua District Choir, Whangarei Choral Society and the Auckland Bach Cantata Society, and was for several years Director of the Hamilton Music School.
Following vocal studies with Dorothy Hopkins, Beatrice Webster and Anthea Moller, John has also sung as baritone soloist with groups throughout the country in much of the oratorio and cantata repertoire and performed roles for Mercury Opera and Opera Boutique. He has given several concert recitals and recorded three programmes for Radio New Zealand.
Regularly engaged for choral and vocal courses, workshops, radio talks, compèring and adjudication, John chairs the New Zealand Choral Federation’s Governance Board and is Artistic Director of Sing Aotearoa 09. In 2008 he was awarded a mid-career grant by Creative NZ to attend the World Symposium on Choral Music in Copenhagen and in February 2009 was invited to Brisbane to conduct the inaugural Queensland ANCA Chamber Choir. John is also recognised for his work with larger forces, having conducted groups for the Harry Secombe, Michael Crawford, Russell Watson and Eric Idle concert tours, the ARC Christmas Carol Spectaculars and two All Blacks test matches, as well as directing the Rotorua Lakeside Choir for three years. He has prepared massed choirs for Auckland’s millennial celebration This Is It! and Mahler’s 2nd and 3rd Symphonies for the NZSO, and has conducted the 500 to 1000 voices at Auckland’s summer extravaganza Skycity Starlight Symphony since its inception.
John has conducted Wellington and Auckland performances of Handel’s Acis and Galatea for The NBR New Zealand Opera, its first foray into Baroque opera, as well as three seasons of its production of Michael Williams’ chamber opera The Prodigal Child, for the Taranaki, Christchurch and Auckland Festivals. In June 2009 he will conduct a performance of Rossini’s L’Italiana in Algeri for the company.