The guiding hand of Dame Kiri Te Kanawa has once again helped propel some of New Zealand’s most promising young singers along their international career paths. After visiting and personally teaching at the annual New Zealand Opera School last summer, Dame Kiri facilitated the attendance this January of two more world-renowned teachers, as the core of the Kiri Te Kanawa Foundation International Vocal Faculty: Della Jones (UK) and César Ulloa (USA). This, says school director Jonathan Alver, contributed to an enviable learning opportunity the equal of any in the world.
“Through the Foundation’s support and Dame Kiri’s personal interest we were able to offer our students one of the highest possible standards of vocal tuition available internationally. Professor Ulloa is regularly coaching the very best young voices in the United States; they are winning competitions and going on to young artist programmes at the major opera houses in the world.
“Della Jones brought to us the stunning nuances of character and style that has made her such a renowned performer and now a regular teacher at the National Opera Studio in London. For our students she demonstrated the incredible attention to detail and broad spectrum of skills needed for an international singing career.”
Deputy Chair of the Kiri Te Kanawa Foundation, Diana Fenwick, says the sponsorship of these highly respected tutors provided for “an amazing experience” for the students this year. “They gave so much time, knowledge and encouragement, and we were thrilled with the progress of the singers during the two weeks of the school.”
24 students, who had been selected from applicants throughout New Zealand, were required to show evidence of their talent and their existing commitment to professional studies. They lived and breathed music for two weeks in the intensive residential course which takes place over two weeks every January on the campus of Wanganui Collegiate.
After 23 years, the annual opera school has produced a disproportionate number of students who have been accepted for highly contested study programmes overseas. More than one third of this year’s roll are already committed to offshore endeavours in the next 12 months, says Jonathan Alver. “In addition we have discovered a number of exceptional voices among the first time attendees this year, and some of those will be following their colleagues in the next few years after further nurturing their skills at the summer school. Dame Kiri firmly made the point last year that ‘the world only wants exceptional’ so I am pleased we continue to rise to her call.”
Diana Fenwick adds that especially for those singers who are still working towards their overseas travels, bringing the opera world’s best teachers to New Zealand fulfils one of the Foundation’s objectives. “Not all students are ready or able to travel overseas, so by sponsoring these tutors here at the New Zealand Opera School we are delighted to give them this unique experience at home.”
Donald Trott, Executive Chairman and Founder of the School, says New Zealanders can be proud of the resource and the results that the school, its students and its sponsors make possible. “Every year our country is producing a number of great singers who are joining this demanding but very fulfilling profession. As a country, we are certainly singing above our weight!”