Ella Buchanan Hanify is a New Zealand choral director, composer, pianist and teacher. Ella was born in 1951 and educated in Christchurch in a rich musical environment, with both parents professional pianists—her mother classical and her father a gifted jazz/popular pianist.
She received her musical and academic education from the Mercy Sisters of St Mary’s College in Christchurch who instilled the love of music and the expectation of high achievement in everyone.
Ella says she was fortunate to study the Arts and Music at Canterbury University Music Department under such outstanding teachers and composers as Professor Emeritus Vernon Griffiths. She won a number of University Music prizes including the Union of Graduates Music Prize, the Dr. J. C. Bradshaw Prize, and the Alabaster Knowles Prize. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts with a double major in Music and English. She also gained her LTCL in Piano and LTCL in MusicTheory.
Ella’s professional musical activities and interests are eclectic and all have contributed to her composi- tional style and choral expertise in some way. She brings a passion for all styles of Music from musical theatre to jazz , popular, sacred, world music and classical which she considers of equal value.
Her choral compositions are marked by melodic beauty and compelling harmonic progressions.
Ella has composed and arranged a considerable amount of choral music for her own and other choirs, receiving commissions for school festivals and from church groups. She has also arranged a number of New Zealand popular songs and firmly believes that the popular song can be a great starting point for choir singing and for choral harmonizing.
Ella was the Head of Music at Chilton Saint James School in Lower Hutt Wellington for over 20 years. Under her direction the school developed a national reputation for the strength of its Music and choral programmes from Primary through to Secondary level.
Ella is the Musical Director of the school Seraphim Choir which she founded in 1996. Both the Seraphim Choir and the non-auditioned I See Red Choir have won numerous New Zealand Choral Federation Awards at Regional and National level over the years.
The Seraphim Choir has traveled widely overseas, participating in Choral Festivals and competitions. In 2007, the choir participated in the International Bohuslav Martinů Choir Competition in the Czech Republic where it gained four Silver medals. Seraphim is a regular finalist in the regional Big Sing Choral competition, having won numerous awards at Regional and National Finale level. The choir was honoured to perform during the televised 2014 National ANZAC Commemoration Ceremony and Wreath Laying, marking the 99th anniversary of the Gallipoli Landings.
The Seraphim Choir has represented New Zealand, singing in Belgium at ceremonies in Passeschaendale, attended by Queen Elizabeth and Commonwealth Heads of State to commemorate the 90th Anniversary of the Battles of Flanders Fields. In 2011, the choir was accepted to sing Mass on the central altar of St Peter’s in the Vatican. It has also presented concerts in Notre Dame and other European cathedrals.The choir has also sung with the New Zealand Symphony orchestra for its annual Christmas concert.
Since 2006 Ella has been the Musical Director of the Wellington Young People’s Artsplash Music Festival, conducting a series of concerts for Primary and Intermediate school children in the Michael Fowler Centre. Under Ella’s direction, participation from schools in the greater Wellington region has continued to grow.
A professional free-lance pianist and singer for a number of years, she lead her own jazz cabaret band. She was also resident pianist for the New Zealand National Film Archive and the NZ Film Festival composing, improvising and performing piano music for silent films for a number of years. Ella has also worked as pianist and Musical Director for shows and revues for Wellington Musical Theatre and other companies.
Ella is Organist and Choir Director at Sts Peter and Paul Church, Parish of Te Awakairangi, Lower Hutt. The choir sings many of her compositions. 
Ella is grateful for a lifetime of music-making with new horizons and music opportunities always unfolding. She firmly believes that music is our special connection and language to the divine, eternal sphere.