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Dame Kiri to receive Victoria University honour

Dame Kiri to receive Victoria University honour

Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, New Zealand’s foremost soprano and opera legend, will receive an honorary degree from Victoria University of Wellington at a special conferment ceremony in London.

Dame Kiri will receive the honorary Doctor of Music degree from University Chancellor, Emeritus Professor Tim Beaglehole, at the ceremony on 6 November at Marlborough House in London.

She first came to national attention at the age of 20 as winner of the John Court Aria Prize and the Mobil Song Quest (now the Lexus Song Quest). Her international opera career was confirmed almost overnight in 1971 after her sensational debut as the Countess in Le Nozze di Figaro at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. Since then she has graced the stage of all leading opera houses world-wide. She has performed with the world’s major orchestral ensembles and conductors.

Dame Kiri was made a Dame Commander of The Order of the British Empire in 1982, she was also appointed a Companion of The Order of Australia in 1990 and awarded the Order of New Zealand in The Queen’s Birthday Honours 1995. She is an Honorary Member of the Royal Academy of Music.

Dame Kiri was a guest performer at the Royal Wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer at St Paul’s Cathedral in 1981 and her performance was viewed by more than 600 million people.

Her 1999 album Maori Songs paid tribute to her background and homeland, and at the end of 1999 she travelled to her original home city, Gisborne—the first city in the world to see the year 2000. Her Millennium dawn performance was broadcast live to an estimated audience of more than one billion people in 80 countries.

In February 2004 she launched The Kiri Te Kanawa Foundation, a charity that aims to give support and financial aid to dedicated New Zealand singers and musicians.

Victoria University of Wellington Vice-Chancellor, Professor Pat Walsh, said Dame Kiri’s work was admired around the world and she was renowned for her operatic versatility and poise.

“Dame Kiri is a living treasure and an inspiration to our music students. For students in the New Zealand School of Music, which Victoria University established in partnership with Massey University, Dame Kiri is a role model who is recognised worldwide for her professionalism and commitment to the highest standards of excellence.”

Professor Walsh said the University was particularly pleased to be able to confer the degree at Marlborough House.

“To be able confer the degree at such a prestigious venue as Marlborough House, the home of the Commonwealth Secretariat, as the feature of a reunion for our many alumni in Britain, will make this conferment doubly special.”


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