Meet the Judges

Here are the judges for the Vocal Group Competition and the Choir Competition at Aarhus Vocal Festival 2022

Head Judge: Kim Nazarian

Kim is the head judge at both the Vocal Group and the Choir Competition

Kim Nazarian is a world renowned performing grammy nominated jazz artist, educator and clinician. Besides her work as a sought-after solo vocalist, she has been performing all over the world with the vocal group “New York Voices“ (NYV) for more than 30 years. She is a jazz voice teacher via Skype for Vocal Jazz Majors at Ithaca College and she shares her perspectives on music and life as a musician through teaching private students in clinics, workshops, jazz camps and masterclasses, as well as through festival adjudication and guest conducting for singers on all levels in the US and abroad.
Nazarian was recognized as one of the top 50 most influential Armenian artists in 2012 and inducted into her High School’s Hall of Fame. She is the lead vocalist for the Latin influenced jazz ensemble “El Eco“, led by Argentinian drummer and composer Guillermo Nojechowicz, and sang as a guest vocalist on the latest CD of Gabriel Espinosa in 2018.

Kim Nazarian

Judges Vocal Group Competition

Clare Wheeler
Morten Vinther

Clare Wheeler

Clare Wheeler is a singer, composer, arranger, vocal coach and workshop leader.

She studied at Chethams School of Music as a violinist and singer, before moving on to study classical and jazz voice and composition at Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London, where she is now Vocal Jazz Faculty Chair and well as Vocal Jazz Professor, teaching singing, improvisation and aural skills. Clare taught music theory and harmony at the Academy of Contemporary Music before joining 5 time Grammy winning vocal group The Swingles in 2007. She performed with the group, writing music and making albums for eleven years, having the chance to sing with artists such as Rumer, Jamie Cullum and Labrinth, as well as performing in some of the world’s most prestigious music venues and working with legendary conductors. She was a guest host of BBC Radio 2’s show The Choir, as well as arranger and vocal coach on the BBC One show Pitch Battle in 2017, working in the final with vocal group Scot Soul and soul legend Chaka Khan. She was the in-house arranger for BBC Radio 3’s Carol Competition in 2020, writing the choral arrangements for all six finalists.
“Clare Wheeler is the real deal in so many ways – an amazing vocalist, a superb arranger and composer, a brilliant and gracious educator – I’ve had the sincere pleasure of working with Clare in a few varied musical settings and always come to marvel at all that she can do so well.” Peter Eldridge, New York Voices

Morten Vinther

Morten is a Danish singer, producer and composer with a masters degree from The Royal Academy of Music in Aalborg (DK). In 2010 he joined the Swedish vocal group The Real Group and spent almost a decade touring and working globally with the group. Prior to this, Morten was active in various choirs and ensembles in Denmark and the experiences with both vocal groups and larger ensemble gives him a broad perspective on vocal music – pedagogically and artistically. Today he works with methods developed in The Real Group as well as Jim Daus Hjernøe’s ideas on “the intelligent choir”. Over the years intention and connection have furthermore become two very important focuspoints. Since 2020 Morten is based in Germany, from where he’s working with Syng Selected, POSTYR, Latvian Voices, Bonner Jazzchor, Songs of The Moment, various recording projects and activities connected to The Real Group Academy.

Judges Choir Competition

Malene Rigtrup
Erik Sohn

Malene Rigtrup

MALENE RIGTRUP teaches choral conducting and vocal arranging/vocal composing at The Royal Academy of Music in Aarhus / Aalborg (RAMA Vocal Center). She is the musical director of the elite girls’ choir Maestra at Aarhus Music School, where she also teaches solo singing and leads big musical projects. For more than twenty years, Malene has written and published vocal arrangements (including commissioned pieces for groups such as Vocal Line and Rajaton) and led workshops for choirs and choir leaders all over Europe. Since 2003 Malene has been collaborating with Morten Kjær in “Ørehænger”, and together they have published sheet music, recordings and books for singers and choir leaders of modern vocal music. As a solo artist, she has published the EP “Not Later Love” which showcases her own songs. www.malenerigtrup.dk

Erik Sohn

Erik Sohn grew up in Friedrichshafen at Lake Constance, Germany. He sang enthusiastically in choirs and cover bands and he always tried hard not to disturb too much when playing his violin in the orchestra. While studying Music and German in Cologne, he not only discovered his passion both for classical singing and the production of driving electro beats, but also gained first experience in choral conducting. Following his final degree (‘Staatsexamen’), Erik graduated in classical vocal studies and began working as a concert singer. In parallel, since then, he has worked as a choir leader and coach for vocal groups.
In this field, Erik teaches at the German Hochschule für Musik und Tanz in Cologne, is the initiator of the annual voc.cologne festival and, together with Stephan Görg, directs the choir Vocal Journey as well as, with Robert Göstl, the Landesjugendchor NRW (State Youth Choir of North Rhine-Westphalia).