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Claire Scholes

Performer, Composer

Born: 1980


Claire Scholes (nee Nash) is a mezzo-soprano and composer who was born in the Manawatū and is now based in Auckland. As a composer Claire was thrilled to attend Opera Factory's premiere season of her chamber opera The Kiri Masterclass in 2013. Her subsequent chamber opera Live Drag was workshopped by Opera Factory, and performed by New Zealand Opera as part of Auckland Pride Festival 2018. In 2019 Claire was awarded the SOUNZ Commission for Orchestra and Sistema Youth Orchestra, and the resultant work Cuba on Cuba was performed by Orchestra Wellington and Arohanui Strings.

Claire has been honoured to work as an orchestral arranger for Hinewehi Mohi on her latest recording project Raukatauri. As an arranger Claire has also worked with New Zealand bands Six60, Adeaze, Titanium, and for singer Maisey Rika. She was composer for Janette Goodey's award-winning animated film Rip Drip Tear, and animated short film The Story of Percival Pilts.

Claire was the New Zealand composer chosen to attend the MODART07 festival in Sydney where vocal ensemble The Song Company premiered her piece Epicene Women. She has had pieces commissioned by the Solaris Trio, Kahu, King’s College, Carncot School, Ponsonby Primary School, and Diocesan School for Girls; and her compositions have been performed by the Auckland Chamber Orchestra and workshopped by the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra. Her choral music has been conducted by Dr. Karen Grylls; and she has recently been published in the Prairie Dawg Press Anthology of Violin Music by Women and the Anthology of Viola Music by Women, both compiled by Dr. Cora Cooper of Kansas State University.

Claire is a committed advocate of contemporary and avant-garde vocal music, and has performed works by Annea Lockwood (whose work I Give You Back Claire performed to critical acclaim at the 2013 Auckland Pride Festival), Eve de Castro-Robinson (Chaos of Delight II, Three Thumbnails, Len Songs), Ross Harris (To the Memory of I.S.Totzka), Jenny McLeod, Gillian Whitehead, and many other New Zealand composers; as well as works by Peter Maxwell-Davies (Miss Donnithorne’s Maggot), Luciano Berio (Folk Songs), Cathy Berberian (Stripsody) and Michael Daugherty (What’s That Spell?). Claire’s mentor is soprano Patricia Wright.

Claire has performed as a soloist with the Auckland Chamber Orchestra, Stroma, The Handel Consort and Quire, The Karlheinz Company, Franklin Community Choir, and The Committee, and has been a finalist and prize-winner in numerous aria competitions, including the Lockwood Aria. She has been a Freemasons Artist with New Zealand Opera, sings with the New Zealand Opera Chorus, and is a former member of the New Zealand Youth Choir. Claire also performed to over 200 New Zealand primary schools as a touring singer for Class Act Opera.

Claire has worked as a reviewer for Radio New Zealand Concert. As a teacher Claire has been a guest vocal tutor with the New Zealand Secondary Students' Choir, and works with Ōtara’s talented young musicians at Sistema Aotearoa.

Winner of Douglas Mews prize for choral composition, University of Auckland, 2006.
1st runner-up in University of Auckland Exposure Post Graduate Awards 2006 - Live Performance (of own composition).
University of Auckland Douglas Lilburn Trust Composition Prize Concert 2002: winner of Audience’s Choice prize, 2nd place overall.
Opera Factory Composition Competition 2013 - runner-up with 'The Kiri Master Class’.
Opera Factory Composition Competition 2016 finalist with ‘Live Drag’.

Photo credit: Calvin Baker

“...droll, camp and outrageous as could be...” - William Dart, New Zealand Herald

Composed (7)

Cuba on Cuba

for orchestra and sistema youth orchestra, 5m

Epicene Women

for soprano, mezzo-soprano, tenor, baritone, bass, plastorgans and plastic cups, 12m

Ophelia Songs

for female voice, treble recorder, alto saxophone, bass clarinet, and a bowl of water, 16m 19s

Raga Machine

for bass clarinet and cello

The Bewitching Moon

graphic score for unaccompanied SATB choir, 7m 14s

The Kiri Master Class

a micro-opera, 25m

The Wyrd Sisters

for clarinet trio, 7m 30s

Arranged (4)


arranged for voice and orchestra, 5m


arranged for voice and orchestra, 3m 38s


arranged for voice and orchestra, 4m 56s

Toitū te Whenua

arranged for voice and orchestra, 5m 45s