National | Music

Promising young opera singers meet in Auckland

A programme founded by Dame Kiri Te Kanawa to develop skills in young singers will see its first intake gathering in Auckland this week for their final, intense week of development.

Last year, Te Kanawa called on philanthropists and businesses in New Zealand to partner with her charitable foundation in a new nursery of artistic excellence called Te Kiri Programme.

The programme, consisting of five intense modules, has been addressing skill gaps identified during an eight-year study by the Foundation.

Singers will be joined by England's National Opera Studio Director, Kathryn Harries, who was appointed to head the programme, and who also gives feedback direct to Te Kanawa.

Te Kanawa wishes to have young singers at a higher level when going overseas to further their careers.

Since its inception, the curriculum has evolved to include motivational psychology, grooming and media training, as well as business skills, language, acting and vocal development.

Katherine McIndoe, Filipe Manu and Madison Nonoa are taking up GBP 20,000 scholarships this September at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London. Its famous alumni include actors Daniel Craig, Orlando Bloom, Jude Law and Ewan McGregor, baritone Bryn Terfel, cellist Jacqueline du Pré, and soprano Anne Sofie von Otter.

Waikato's Eliza Boom has recently won the Dame Malvina Major Foundation Christchurch Aria and takes up a masters’ degree scholarship in Manchester in September.

Jarvis Dams won the top award at the 2017 Napier Performing Arts Competition. Natasha Wilson and Madison Nonoa have been cast in professional stage productions on both sides of the Tasman. Filipe, Natasha and Katherine were semi-finalists in this year’s IFAC Handa Australian Singing Competition, with Filipe going on to the finals to compete against four Australians on 15 July, immediately following the final module of The Kiri Programme.

Course director Stephen Dee says this is early evidence that the programme is focusing effectively on the skills required to speed them on their musical journey.

Kiri Te Kanawa Foundation deputy chair, Diana Fenwick, says the programme is preparing to enter its second year with optimism and a sense of achievement.

“We would like to thank the generous individuals, trusts and companies that have made continuing commitments. They see the Foundation’s programme as a credible vehicle for investment in the future of our young singers. Enormous credit is also due to the tutors and visiting experts giving such fulsome commitment to the hard-working first-year participants whose successes have quickly proven the potential of the programme.”

The Foundation expects to finalise the second year’s participating singers shortly.