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Victoria University Honours Dame Kiri Te Kanawa

17 August 2005

Victoria University Honours Dame Kiri Te Kanawa

Foremost soprano and opera legend, Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, is to receive an honorary degree from Victoria University of Wellington at a special conferment ceremony early in 2006.

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.

Made a Dame Commander of The Order of the British Empire in 1982, Dame Kiri 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.

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

Dame Kiri’s 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 has long-recognised the significant contribution of Dame Kiri, and in 1999, our centennial year, resolved to award her a Doctor of Music honoris causa. We are delighted that she is now able to come to Wellington to accept this degree in person,” said Vice-Chancellor, Professor Pat Walsh.

“This is a magnificent occasion for the University and its students. Now that we have established the New Zealand School of Music, in partnership with Massey University, in New Zealand’s creative capital city, role models such as Dame Kiri provide an important source of inspiration for our young musicians,” he said.

“Dame Kiri is a living treasure and the consummate professional. She has always strived to achieve the highest standards of excellence in all that she does, for the advancement of opera. Dame Kiri’s work is admired around the globe and she is renowned for her versatility and poise.”


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