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2007 LEXUS SONG QUEST winners to tour the country

Media release – for immediate release
26 July 2006

2007 LEXUS SONG QUEST winners to tour the country

New Zealand’s most famous singing competition is now calling for entries. Entry forms for the 2007 Lexus Song Quest will be distributed nationwide to tertiary music schools and singing teachers, directly to New Zealand singers studying overseas and are available online at www.nzfestival.telecom.co.nz. The Song Quest is a proven springboard for young singers and launched international careers of previous winners Kiri Te Kanawa, Malvina Major, Teddy Tahu Rhodes and Jonathan Lemalu.

After the success of the 2005 competition a new dimension has been added for 2007; the Lexus Song Quest Recital Tour. The top three place-getters will tour the country giving audiences around New Zealand a chance to hear these promising young performers first hand. After the final concert in Auckland’s Town Hall on 27 April the Recital Tour will take the winners to Christchurch (30 April), Dunedin (2 May) and Wellington (4 May). Accompanied by Terence Dennis these joint recitals will also give the prize-winners a taste of professional touring.

The judge for the Final is one of the world’s leading dramatic sopranos on today’s stage, Elizabeth Connell. Ms Connell has appeared with major opera houses in London, Paris, Vienna, Berlin, New York, San Francisco and Milan and at the Bayreuth, Salzburg, Verona and Glyndebourne Festivals.

The judging process of the Lexus Song Quest is designed to find and showcase New Zealand’s most talented young singers with international potential. Singers between the age of 17 and 32 are eligible to enter the Lexus Song Quest.

Entrants must prepare six items – 2 operatic arias; an aria from oratorio, mass or cantata; a European art song and two items of their own choice. They submit this programme with their entry form by the closing date of Thursday 19 October, 2006. Entrants unable to attend live auditions in New Zealand can submit a recording of their six items with their entry form.

At auditions to be held in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin during the week of 24 November, 2006, a panel of three preliminary judges will select 12 semi-finalists. The semi-finalists will make a recording of six items. From these recordings the judges will select the six finalists that will compete in the final concert on 27 April 2007 to determine the 2007 Lexus Song Quest winner.

The preliminary judges for the 2007 Lexus Song Quest are Annabelle Cheetham, Roger Flury and Barry Mora.

There is a real commitment to making a contribution towards the development of professional singing throughout the whole country by both Lexus New Zealand and the New Zealand International Arts Festival who manages and presents the Lexus Song Quest. For this reason, following the final, the international judge Elizabeth Connell will take Lexus Song Quest Masterclasses in the four main centres. The singers participating in the Lexus Song Quest Masterclasses will be selected from the entrants to the Lexus Song Quest and the classes will be free for teachers, singers and members of the public to observe.

BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION

Elizabeth Connell

Elizabeth Connell is recognised as one of the world’s leading dramatic sopranos. Following her debut at Wexford Opera Festival in 1972 she sang at the opening of the Sydney Opera House in War and Peace in 1973 and has continued to have a special relationship with Opera Australia ever since. Following a five-year association with English National Opera she has been a freelance artist with the major opera houses.

She has appeared at the opera houses of London, Paris, Vienna, Berlin, Munich, Hamburg, New York (Metropolitan Opera), San Francisco, Milan (La Scala), Naples and Geneva in a wide repertoire including Lohengrin, Tannhäuser, Der fliegende Holländer, Tristan und Isolde, the Ring, Elektra, Ariadne, Nabucco, Macbeth, Attila, Don Carlos, Fidelio, Jenufa and Peter Grimes. She has had a successful collaboration with conductors such as Abbado, Muti, Sinopoli, Giulini, Sawallisch, Mackerras, Downes, Sir Colin Davis, Maazel, Levine, Ozawa and Elder. She has sung at the Bayreuth (Lohengrin, Tristan and Der fliegende Holländer), Salzburg (Idomeneo and Elektra), Orange (Elektra and Nabucco), Verona (Norma and Nabucco) and Glyndebourne (Idomeneo) Festivals.

In concert her performances have included Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony in London with Claudio Abbado, Missa Solemnis in Florence with Carlo Maria Giulini and Mahler’s Eighth Symphony with Maazel, Sinopoli and Boulez. She has also sung in Euryanthe in London and Oberon in London, Tanglewood and Rome. In recital she has appeared with Geoffrey Parsons, Graham Johnson, Eugene Asti and Lamar Crowsen in Milan, Geneva, Sydney, Johannesburg and at the Wigmore Hall. She has recently sung Strauss Vier Letzte Lieder with the London Philharmonic Orchestra and Jonathan Nott and with the West Australian Symphony Orchestra under Matthias Bamert.

Her many recordings include Rossini's Guillaume Tell (Decca/Chailly), Mahler's Eighth Symphony (EMI/Tennstedt), Mendelssohn's Second Symphony (DG/Abbado), Franz Schreker's Die Gezeichneten (Decca/Zagrosek), Donizetti's Poliuto, Verdi's I Due Foscari (Philips/Gardelli), Schönberg's Gurrelieder (Denon/Inbal), Wagner's Lohengrin (Philips/Friedrich) and Schubert Lieder with Graham Johnson, as part of Hyperion’s Complete Schubert Edition.

Her recent engagements include Brünnhilde, the Kostelnicka, Norma, Abigaille, Ortrud and Ariadne in Australia, the Färberin, Ortrud, Fidelio and Isolde in Berlin, Senta in Hamburg and Berlin, Elektra in Berlin, Madrid, Oviedo, Bordeaux, Tokyo and Montreal, Ortrud in Mannheim and the Färberin in Frankfurt. She sings Isolde in Hamburg, Elektra in Houston and Turandot in Australia, as well as Brünnhilde with Marek Janowski in concert in Berlin.

Enquiries about the details of the 2007 Lexus Song Quest and requests for entry forms should be directed to:

Diana Cable, Artistic Administrator, New Zealand International Arts Festival

email: lexussongquest@festival.co.nz

ENDS

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