Lexus Song Quest winner

2014 Lexus Song Quest winner: Auckland soprano Isabella Moore.
Second placegetter: South Auckland baritone Benson Wilson
Third placegetter: Wellington baritone Christian Thurston
Auckland soprano Isabella Moore has been crowned the winner of the 2014 Lexus Song Quest.

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Auckland soprano Isabella Moore has been crowned the winner of the 2014 Lexus Song Quest.

Isabella (23) was named the winner at the Grand Final of the prestigious contest at Auckland Town Hall.

Second placegetter was south Auckland baritone Benson Wilson with Wellington baritone Christian Thurston in third place.

Auckland soprano Isabella Moore has been crowned the winner of the 2014 Lexus Song Quest.

Isabella (23) was named the winner at the Grand Final of the prestigious contest at Auckland Town Hall.

Second placegetter was south Auckland baritone Benson Wilson with Wellington baritone Christian Thurston in third place.

Isabella’s win makes it a hat-trick for Samoan singers – in 2009 the contest was won by Aivale Cole, and in 2012, Isabella's partner Amitai Pati was named the winner.

The win caps off an incredible fortnight for Isabella – she flew back to New Zealand from Wales where she has completed a Masters in Advanced Vocal Performance with distinction, and quickly notched up wins in the Dame Malvina Major Foundation Christchurch Aria and Hamilton’s Premier Vocal Award competitions, and was last week confirmed as a semi-finalist in the 2014 Australian Singing Competition.

“It's very overwhelming and exciting. I was really happy with my performance, and it was pretty nerve-wracking waiting to hear the name of the winner, but I'm absolutely thrilled."

In the challenging contest, the six finalists each performed three pieces - one accompanied by pianist Terence Dennis and two arias performing alongside the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Emmanuel Joel-Hornak.

Acclaimed British soprano and vocal teacher Kathryn Harries was the contest's Grand Final international judge and said all six finalists had international singing careers ahead of them.

"In coming years, I look forward to seeing their names on programmes all over the world."

Ms Harries said Isabella's performance stood out for the combination of vocal technique, musicianship, expressiveness and the x-factor.

"All six finalists were very close and it did come down to the performance on the night."

Isabella won the title singing Rachmaninoff’s Spring Waters accompanied by Terence Dennis and two arias performed with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra; Mozart’s Come scoglio from Cosi Fan Tutte and Massenet’s Pleurez, pleurez mes yeux from Le Cid.
 
As winner of the 2014 Lexus Song Quest, Isabella  receives a career-defining Study Scholarship of $15,000, cash prize of $10,000, plus a return economy international airfare. She will use the prize money towards auditioning in London for young artist programmes.

Runner-up Benson Wilson receives a Study Scholarship of $10,000 and a cash prize of $8000. The cash prize for the runner-up of the Lexus Song Quest is supported by the Dame Malvina Major Foundation. Third prize-winner Christian Thurston receives a Study Scholarship of $5000 and a cash prize of $5000. Finalists each receive cash prizes of $3500.

The Lexus Song Quest has launched the careers of some of New Zealand’s most celebrated opera stars including Dames Kiri Te Kanawa and Malvina Major, Jonathan Lemalu, Madeleine Pierard,  Phillip Rhodes. Now studying in a prestigious UK opera school, 2012 winner Amitai Pati is one third of the hugely successful trio Sol3 Mio, whose debut record went platinum and bested Lorde by becoming New Zealand’s biggest selling album of 2013.

Lexus Song Quest 2014 winner Isabella Moore, second placegetter Benson Wilson and third placegetter Christian Thurston will perform the Lexus Recital Concert, accompanied by Terence Dennis, at the Opera House in Wellington on Tuesday 29 July. Tickets are available through Ticketek 0800 842 538.

The Lexus Song Quest programme also includes a Masterclass Series that is free to the public. Lexus Song Quest finalists and semi-finalists will be participating in the masterclasses which will be held in Auckland on Monday 28 July, Wellington on Wednesday 30 July, in Dunedin on Thursday 31 July 2014) and in Christchurch on Friday 1 August. One finalist participating in the masterclasses will be awarded the 2014 Kiri Te Kanawa Foundation Scholarship for Outstanding Potential - a $15,000 scholarship to be used towards overseas study.

The Lexus Song Quest is managed and presented by the New Zealand Festival with significant support from the Kiri Te Kanawa Foundation for the presentation of the masterclasses and The Dame Malvina Major Foundation who support the second prize of the competition.

Winner

  • Isabella Moore
  • Age: 23
  • Voice: Soprano
  • Resident: Cardiff
  • Hometown: Auckland

Isabella Moore is a New Zealand-born Samoan soprano, who discovered her love of singing at an early age. She holds a Bachelor of Music and Postgraduate Diploma in Voice Performance from the New Zealand School of Music and has recently completed a Masters in Advanced Vocal Performance at the Wales International Academy of Voice under the tutelage of Dennis O’Neill and Nuccia Focile. Isabella was a finalist in the Royal Over-Seas League Vocal competition this year in London and received an international competitors award. In 2013, she won numerous regional singing competitions and received the Dame Malvina Major Wellington Regional Arts Excellence Award. Isabella was a semi-finalist in the 2012 Lexus Song Quest and won the Radio New Zealand Lexus Song Quest Listeners' Choice Award.
 
Third Placegetter

  • Christian Thurston
  • Age: 23
  • Voice: Baritone
  • Resident: Wellington
  • Hometown: Rotorua

Since completing his Bachelor of Music (Classical Performance – Voice) Christian Thurston has been undertaking a Postgraduate Diploma (Classical Performance – Voice) at the New Zealand School of Music studying with Richard Greager and Margaret Medlyn. Christian holds an ATCL Performing with Distinction and Certificate of Special Merit from Trinity College Guildhall London. He was the 2009 National Young Performer of the Year for Acting. He has performed solo roles in a number of operas, musical theatre, concerts, oratorios and recitals. In his spare time he is an avid rugby player and cricketer.
 
Second Placegetter

  • Benson Wilson
  • Age: 23
  • Voice: Baritone
  • Resident: Auckland
  • Hometown: South Auckland/Havelock North

Benson Wilson is a proud New Zealand- born S?moan who is proud to represent his culture and family. Benson is in his final year studying for a Bachelor of Music (Vocal Performance) at the University of Auckland. Last year he was awarded the University of Auckland’s Vice-Chancellor’s Cultural Grant. After graduating he plans to continue his study in Europe. Benson has been a member of the New Zealand Youth Choir and last year toured with the choir to Canada and the United States. He is a member of New Zealand Opera’s Chapman Tripp Opera Chorus for 2014. Benson’s ultimate dream is to open a music academy in south Auckland to nurture musical talent in secondary school students.

Media Release: Lexus Song Quest

Written by

The Big Idea Editor

28 Jul 2014

The Big Idea Editor

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