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Christchurch opera singer and conductor win Awards

The Dame Malvina Major Foundation has recognised the outstanding ability and potential of two Christchurch musicians – bass William O’Brien and conductor Daniel Cooper – in its latest round of awards for the region.

William O’Brien, a practicing solicitor, has received a 2019 Dame Malvina Major Foundation Christchurch Arts Excellence Award worth $5,000 towards studying a Master of Music in Voice at the prestigious San Francisco Conservatory of Music, where he has a full tuition scholarship.

The Christchurch born and raised bass began singing tuition in 2011 while working towards his undergraduate studies in Law and Commerce.

William says it was during the course of his undergraduate studies that he became increasingly immersed in his musical pursuits, and it soon became obvious that his true passion is to pursue a professional singing career, with a focus on opera.

“I am very grateful to receive the Arts Excellence Award and for the support of the Dame Malvina Major Foundation as I prepare to begin my studies in San Francisco.

“The support of the Foundation encourages me even more to make the very best of this tremendous opportunity. The award will assist me to develop artistically and professionally and to launch with confidence into this exciting new journey.”

Daniel Cooper is the 2019 recipient of the $1,000 Cecily Maccoll High Achiever Award, funded by a legacy from the late Cecily Maccoll. The seasoned musician, who is Director of Music and Organist of Knox Presbyterian Church, is currently completing his Master of Music in Performance (Conducting) at the University of Canterbury.

The funding will go towards a public recital in conjunction with the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra to assess Daniel’s mastery of orchestral conducting, concert programming, orchestral planning and artistic vision for his degree.

Daniel says receiving the Cecily Maccoll Award will enable him to have his first significant rehearsal and concert experience as conductor of a professional symphony orchestra.

“This will be a demanding yet highly rewarding and nourishing project that will test and examine my ability to work with professional orchestral musicians and soloists.”

The Dame Malvina Major Foundation helps young New Zealanders in the performing arts achieve their potential by providing education and training opportunities. Dame Malvina Major said that the Foundation’s Arts Excellence Awards were all about fostering local talent and supporting the development of young emerging artists in their communities.

“Across the country, our hard-working committees – all volunteers – organise local events to showcase young artists and raise funds to be able to assist them through these Arts Excellence Awards.

“The Foundation is proud to help develop the huge potential of young artists like William and Daniel. We will continue to follow and support their careers with great interest.”


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