From a line-up of 12 of New Zealand’s hottest young opera singing talent, the Lexus Song Quest judges today announce the names of the six competitors that will head to the 2012 Grand Final on Thursday 30 August in Wellington.
They are 24 year old countertenor Stephen Diaz, 21 year old soprano Grace Park, 22 year old tenor Amitai Pati, 21 year old baritone Kawiti Waetford, 22 year old soprano Bryony Williams and 21 year old tenor Alexander Wilson.
Lexus Song Quest 2012 finalists. Photo by Matt Grace.
The Grand Final Concert will see the six finalists battle it out live on stage. In perhaps the most exhilarating and nerve-wracking night of their careers so far, the young singers will perform with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, under the baton of distinguished operatic conductor Oliver von Dohnányi for the Quest’s International Judge, Dennis O’Neill.
“The Finalists in Lexus Song Quest 2012 are wonderfully talented young people. It was a challenging decision to make but we are very happy with the line-up which sees four young men and two young women going through to the Grand Final. There is a beautiful multicultural mix in the group which makes them very representative of Aotearoa, New Zealand today. There is also a strong sense of community among this group and many were curious to discover whether their friends were also successful,” said Lexus Song Quest Preliminary Judge, Rodney Macann.
Renowned tenor Dennis O’Neill flies in to New Zealand in August from his home in the UK, where he is the founder of the world-famous Wales International Academy of Voice. He will get to work with the singers ahead of the Final, coaching them on technique, language and musical expression – all of which will be scrutinised on the night.
As well as professional acclaim, the winner and runners-up receive substantial cash, travel and study prizes designed to kick-start a career on the international stage.
“There is so much at stake for these young singers. The next six weeks will be a very crucial time. All of them, with their very individual talents are potential Lexus Song Quest winners. I am hugely looking forward to the Final,” said Mr. Macann.
The Lexus Song Quest winner will receive a $10,000 cash prize, a $15,000 study grant and return international airfares – and become the 56th winner of the Lexus Song Quest, joining the ranks of Quest alumni including Dame Kiri Te Kanawa (1965), Dame Malvina Major (1963), Teddy Tahu Rhodes (1991) and Jonathan Lemalu (1998).