World Youth Choir 2017: Meet the Conductors

  • over 3 years ago

Zoltán Pad 

Zoltán Pad studied with Péter Erdei in Budapest and with Michael Gläser in Munich. In 2008 he worked as choir leader at the Central Conservatory of Music, Beijing. Between 2009 and 2014, he was chief conductor of Kodály Choir Debrecen, since 2014 he has been chief conductor of the Hungarian Radio Choir. As choir master he worked with Sir Simon Rattle and the Berliner Philharmoniker, with Daniel Harding, Péter Eötvös and the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. He had concerts with all the professional mixed choirs in Hungary, and he is also a welcomed guest at professional choirs in Europe.

In 2007, Zoltán won the Audience Award and a Special Prize at the 4th International Competition for Young Conductors (organised by Europa Cantat). He worked with all the three professional mixed choirs in Hungary. He is also a welcomed guest at professional choirs in Europe, this season he is going to work with the Polish Radio Choir, and next season he will have concerts in France and in Germany. Zoltán is glad to accept invitations to youth choirs as well, he regularly coaches choirs from Hong Kong. He is a regularly invited guest at music workshops worldwide. It was a great pleasure to him to work with young choral conducters in Limerick, Ireland in 2015, where he lead the choir of the course, organised by Association of Irish Choirs. He is a returning jury member at international choir and conductor competitions (Derry, Bratislava, Maribor, Neerpelt, Maasmechelen, Torino). Between 2009 and 2014 he was member of the Artistic Board of Béla Bartók International Choir Competition – in 2013/14 artistic director of the contest.

Beside his professional life as a choir conductor, he shares his experience with younger conducters: Zoltán Pad is associate professor at the Liszt Academy’s Kodály Institute, where he is working with non-Hungarian students, teaching choral conducting and choir literature.

Ken Wakia

A World Youth Choir alumni, Ken studied choral conducting with Dr. Jo-Michael Scheibe at the University of Miami in Florida, U.S.A., as a Fulbright Scholar.

He is the founding director of one of Kenya’s top choral groups and internationally acclaimed the Nairobi Chamber Chorus, and the Safaricom choir (a work-place choir).  Ken has conducted choirs in Kenya, the US and Europe, including Europa Cantat Junior Choir. Besides his active musical life, Ken currently promotes local and international culture and education as the Cultural and Educational Affairs Specialist for the U.S. Embassy, Nairobi. 

Ken is a familiar figure on the Kenyan and international music scene as an educator, singer and conductor. He started his conducting career whilst studying at Kenyatta University, in Nairobi with Annetta Miller.

He later studied Choral Directing with Dr. Jo-Michael Scheibe at the University of Miami in Florida, U.S.A., as a Fulbright scholar. Some of his mentors also include Dr. Andre Thomas, Dr. Kevin Fenton and Dr. Donald Oglesby. Ken has conducted many groups in Kenya, the US and Europe, including the Nairobi Music Society, the University of Miami Women’s Chorale and the Europa Cantat Junior Choir in Estonia. In October 2005, Ken founded the Nairobi Chamber Chorus to enable young Kenyans to participate in a high quality musical forum from which they can build their careers or expand their knowledge and interest in the arts. He has led the group on the international scene touring the U.S.A., U.K., Spain, Uganda and Tanzania. 

Ken is also the founding director of the Safaricom Choir, a work-place choir for employees of Kenya’s largest mobile phone company, a subsidiary of Vodafone. Ken is known for bringing a wide range of musical styles to his choirs, including arrangements of traditional African folk tunes, African-American spirituals, classical and contemporary compositions. As a singer, Ken has represented Kenya as a member of the World Youth Choir touring Japan, Taiwan, Philippines, Belgium, France, Netherlands and Italy. While in the U.S., he also sang with Jubilate Choir and the Coral Gables Congregational Church, in Kenya he has been a soloist with the Nairobi Music Society, Cantabile and Greenwood Singers.

Ken started career as a music educator, teaching music at Precious Blood Girls High School in Nairobi, where he also directed the school choir.  On his return from the U.S. in 2005, he was appointed Assistant Dean of Students and head of music at the African Nazarene University. Ken currently works as the Cultural and Educational Affairs Specialist for the U.S. Embassy, Nairobi.