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Mobil Song Quest finalists announced

Media Statement
For immediate release 8 August 2000


Mobil Song Quest finalists announced


Six of this country’s most promising young opera singers were named this evening on Concert FM as finalists in the 22nd Mobil Song Quest to be held in Wellington on 2 September 2000.

The six finalists, whose ages range from 22 to 32 and include 2 sopranos, 2 mezzos, a contralto and a baritone were selected from an initial field of over 75 entries in this year’s competition.

Preliminary judges - well known soprano, Jenny Wollerman, acclaimed tenor Richard Greager and distinguished conductor and arts manager, David Taylor - selected the finalists after listening to recordings of a six-item programme made by each of the 12 semi-finalists who were announced in early June.

The judges said that they were impressed with the extremely high standard of entries in this year’s competition and said that, in selecting the finalists, they were looking for not only excellent musicianship but also overall strength of personality and mature performance skills.

All six finalists will showcase their talent at a public concert at the Michael Fowler Centre, Wellington on Saturday 2 September 2000. The concert will be broadcast live on Concert FM. Each singer will be accompanied for one item by Terence Dennis and for two further pieces by the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Michael Lloyd.

The final will be judged by internationally acclaimed American baritone, Sherrill Milnes.
Between 1965 and 1997, Mr Milnes made 651 appearances at the New York Metropolitan Opera and has worked extensively in other major international opera houses.

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The Mobil Song Quest is reputed to be New Zealand’s longest running continuous sponsorship, spanning almost half a century from the mid-1950s. It has provided a springboard for the careers of many opera singers. These include Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, Dame Malvina Major, Teddy Tahu Rhodes and Jonathan Lemalu, as well as both Martin Snell and Andrea Creighton, who returned to New Zealand to take part in the New Zealand Festival 2000.

Prizes reflect the competition’s commitment to promoting opportunities for young New Zealand singers. The winner of the 2000 Mobil Song Quest will receive a cash prize of $10,000 and a study scholarship of up to $15,000 plus international air travel. The runner-up will receive $8,000 and a study scholarship of up to $10,000. The third placed contestant will receive $5,000 and a study scholarship of $5,000.


The six finalists are (in alphabetical order):

Jared Holt (24) - baritone

Jared has recently been awarded a scholarship from the Royal College of Music, London, to undertake post-graduate performance studies later this year. He has graduated from Canterbury University with a L.L.B (Hons)(Law)/B.A. (Classics). Jared has recently performed his 5th role with Canterbury Opera – Valentine in “Faust” and earlier this year performed the roles of Baron Duphol in the Auckland arena production of “La Traviata” and Eisenstein in Wanganui Opera’s “Die Fledermaus”. Jared was the runner-up in the 1998 Mobil Song Quest and was a finalist in the 1996 contest.


Ana James (24) - soprano

Ana has graduated with a BMus in Performance Voice from Victoria University and will begin studies for a Master of Music in Opera at the Manhattan School of Music in New York this month. She has won a number of scholarships and study grants and was placed third in the 1998 Mobil Song Quest. Ana has recently returned from a recital tour of New Zealand Embassies with Dame Malvina Major. She has appeared as a soloist with the Orpheus Choir of Wellington, the City of Dunedin Choir, the Wellington Chamber Orchestra and the Jubilate Singers in Christchurch.


Majka Kaiser (22) - mezzo

Majka has just completed a BMus Honours in Performance Singing at Victoria University. She has been offered a place at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London and will start her studies there for a Diploma in Vocal Studies in September. Majka performed the role of Cherubino in Victoria University’s 1999 production of “The Marriage of Figaro” and she was a soloist in the Orpheus Choir’s semi-staged performance of “Elijah”.
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Andrea Munro (32) - dramatic soprano

Andrea was a member of the 1998-99 Opera New Zealand Emerging Artists Programme. Within that programme she was the Tower Scholar, she won the Dame Malvina Major Foundation Scholarship and she took part in a masterclass with Luciano Pavarotti. In 1998 Andrea won the Wendy Chatfield Memorial Aria (North Shore Competitions) and was a semi-finalist in the McDonald’s Aria in Sydney. Earlier this year, Andrea performed the role of Kate Pinkerton in the NBR New Zealand Opera’s production of “Madam Butterfly”.

April-Marie Neho (25) - contralto

April-Marie is currently completing a BMus/BA at Victoria University, having completed a Diploma in Vocal Studies from the Eastern Institute of Technology in the Hawkes Bay. In 1999 April-Marie took the role of Marcellina in the Victoria University production of “The Marriage of Figaro” and she was a soloist in the Napier Choral Society'’ "Messiah". This year she has been awarded the Moira Todd Scholarship through the New Zealand Opera Society.


Kate Spence (25) - mezzo

Kate is currently completing a Graduate Diploma of Opera Studies at the Queensland Conservatorium at Griffin University in Brisbane. She has a Master of Music (Distinction) from the University of Auckland and an F.T.C.L. in voice from Trinity College. While studying at Auckland University, Kate was a member of the Opera New Zealand Chorus and she appeared as a soloist with the Auckland Choral Society on a number of occasions. At the Queensland Conservatorium she has taken several principal roles in Conservatorium productions.


ENDS


For further information contact:
Diana Cable,
Artistic Administrator, Mobil Song Quest
Tel: (04) 385-1118
Mobile: (025) 242-6454
Email: diana.cable@clear.net.nz

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