The Lexus Song Quest Preliminary Judges have been stunned by the wealth of young talent in this year’s competition, as they announce the names of the 12 contestants who will go through to the semi-finals.
The initial auditions indicated a remarkably youthful and diverse field. All of the semi-final singers are 26 years old and under and there is a particularly strong Māori and Pacific Island representation. For the first time in the contest’s 56-year history, a counter tenor, 24 year old Stephen Diaz, has made it to the semi-finals.
Eminent New Zealand bass-baritone and Preliminary Judge Rodney Macann said, “New Zealand continues to punch above its weight when it comes to the production of world-class opera singers. Hearing the latest crop of outstanding young singers in the Lexus Song Quest convinces me that the future is looking very bright indeed.”
The semi-finalists are Bianca Andrew (mezzo soprano – 22), Stephen Diaz (counter tenor - 24), Marlena Devoe (soprano – 25), Tavis Gravatt (bass baritone – 26), Moses Mackay (bass baritone – 22), Isabella Moore (soprano - 22), Polly Ott (soprano – 25), Grace Park (soprano – 21), Amitai Pati (tenor – 23), Kawiti Waetford (baritone – 21), Bryony Williams (soprano – 23) and Alexander Wilson (tenor – 21).
The singers were put through their paces in live auditions in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin. Over 50 young singers from across New Zealand fought it out for a place in the semi-finals.
Preliminary Judge Sharolyn Kimmorley AM, regarded as one of Australia’s finest vocal coaches, accompanists and mentors to emerging singers, said, “I was excited to hear such outstanding vocal talent and look forward to the next round of listening to these wonderful young singers.”
The semi-finals will be recorded and broadcast on Radio New Zealand on 5, 7, 12 and 14 July. Listeners will also get the chance to pick their own favourite for the prize in Radio New Zealand’s Lexus Song Quest Listeners’ Choice Award.
The Preliminary Judges will then choose six contestants to perform with the New Zealand Sy
mphony Orchestra at the Lexus Song Quest Grand Final – held this year at the Michael Fowler Centre, Wellington, on 30 August 2012. The winner will be chosen by the International Judge, distinguished Welsh tenor Dennis O'Neill.
All finalists will receive coveted prizes, with the Grand Final winner receiving a career defining Study Scholarship of $15,000, cash prize of $10,000, plus a return economy international airfare. The Lexus Song Quest has provided a platform to some of New Zealand’s most celebrated opera stars including Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, Dame Malvina Major, Jonathan Lemalu, Anna Leese, Teddy Tahu Rhodes, Phillip Rhodes, and the late Christopher Doig. The Lexus Song Quest is also supported by the Kiri Te Kanawa Foundation and the Dame Malvina Major Foundation.
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