Photo: Inspire PhotographyCarol Shortis Biography

Carol took piano and violin lessons as a child and sang in school choirs. She always had a deep emotional connection with the music that she listened to during her early years, but it was not until she was in her thirties that she became involved in performing music.

Shortly after moving to Waiheke Island, she joined a choir, primarily as a way to get to know others in the community. After singing with various choirs on Waiheke and in Auckland (including the Dorian Singers), she became a founding member of the gospel choir Sister Shout, who she later went on to direct. During her time on Waiheke she was also involved in amateur theatre productions and light opera, as well as performing regularly with a local Irish pub band.

Becoming frustrated by her lack of skills to make arrangements of songs that she was passionate about, she resolved to embark upon tertiary study for the first time. This initiated a move to Wellington, to study at the New Zealand School of Music (2004-10).

Carol attended university as a mature student in composition, and in 2006 won the national Philip Neill Memorial Prize in Music for her composition The Riddle of her Flight, setting a text by her friend Mike Johnson, a Waiheke poet and author. During this time she worked as the Administrator for Wellington Youth Choir, and sang with a number of choirs in Wellington before joining the Wellington Community Choir in 2005, where she was Assistant Director until 2016.

In 2008 she was elected to the committee of the Composers Association of New Zealand, and became the Treasurer of that organization. In addition to her committee work, she has been co-convenor of the CANZ Nelson Composers Workshop (2010-11), and has represented CANZ at the ISCM General Assemblies in Sweden (2009) and Sydney (2010).

Her compositional output tends towards choral and vocal music, although she has written a number of instrumental works. She has written and arranged music for ensembles and choirs in Wellington and elsewhere, and had a number of works commissioned with funding from Creative New Zealand. Her choral work Tangi (2007) has been performed in Sweden (ISCM World New Music Days 2009) and Japan (Asian Composers League Festival 2010).

From 2008-2012, Carol was a composer member of the SMP Ensemble, an eclectic group of art music enthusiasts who regularly present programmes of contemporary chamber music in Wellington. Her experience in organising musical events with SMP and the many performance groups she has been involved with over the years have contributed to her event management skills, and in 2012 she was initiator of the annual 'Colours of Futuna' concert series, held at John Scott's Chapel of Futuna in Karori, an event that she continued to curate until 2016.

In tandem with composing contemporary choral music for vocal ensembles such as Baroque Voices, Nota Bene and the Festival Singers, Carol continued to develop her directing skills, gravitating towards community-orientated 'natural voice' singing groups. As assistant director of Wellington Community Choir she learnt a great deal from the mentorship of musical director Julian Raphael. She took over as director of the women's section of the Newtown Project in 2008 (later to become Womansong) and began a lunchtime singing group and the Gale Force Gospel Choir in 2011. The Whakaahuru Singers were also formed at this time and she is Musical Director of this group, who are trained to sing for palliative care patients. She was instrumental in the formation of Kāpiti Gospel Choir and Carterton Community Choir. In 2018, having moved to Paraparaumu, she formed Kāpiti Community Choir. She continues to direct various groups of singers in the Wellington region, and increasingly focuses on workshops for choirs throughout Aotearoa.




Carol lives with her family on the beautiful Kāpiti coast, and, aside from singing, her other passions are gardening, yoga, and her two Finnish spitz dogs Sanna and Sofiia.