Local larks compete for operatic scholarship

The six singing scholarship hopefuls

Luciano Pavarotti once said that opera is one of the most important art forms and that it should be listened to and appreciated by everyone.

Annabel Robinson, Ansh Doht and Hemorere Heke-Ririnui from Tauranga Girls College, Zoe Sherlock and India Mahy from Aquinas College, and Abby King from Otumoetai College are practising their songs in the hope of winning a Tauranga Opera Forum – TOF – singing scholarship in September.

Opera singing is specialised, requiring years of dedication and tuition. TOF offers financial help for talented singers to take their study further.

TOF was established in 2013 for lovers of opera to share screenings of professional operas from all over the world. By 2017, a wish by TOF members to encourage and support up-and-coming Tauranga senior secondary students who have a bent towards opera resulted in the formation of the TOF Singing Scholarships.

“This is designed to help provide for 12 months singing tuition,” says TOF Scholarship Committee chairperson John Hodgson.

There are three scholarships with a first prize of $1500, second $1000 and an encouragement award of $500. Applicants must provide sheet music for their audition songs, a video of their performances, compete in a public audition performance and provide a written statement outlining their aspirations.

Zoe wants to tell stories and touch people emotionally through song - and especially wants to master the art of opera. Abby wishes to gain a university singing degree and become a well-known performer.

India loves being on stage and would like to include musical theatre as well as song writing. Annabel hopes to continue to broaden her singing abilities and pursue a singing career. Ansh would like a singing career to lead to overseas opportunities.

Hemorere is grateful for the blessing of vocal ability and with the knowledge she gains, sees her future as an ambassador to inspire young people. 

Whatever their singing aspirations, TOF hopes to help launch deserving young singers into the magical world of opera and help those aspirations come true.

Felicity Tonkins, a former Tauranga Girls' College student, and now the NZ Opera's studio artist, is the vocal judge for the competition. While Felicity is deliberating, Tri-oh a Tauranga Girls’ College chamber music group will play for the audience. Tri-oh is made up of Heeju Tak, Sara Lee and Patti Li and is the winning group in the BOP Region of the NZ Chamber Music Competition.

Later in the programme, along with a solo by last year’s scholarship winner, Ella Patterson, a surprise guest singer will feature.

The Scholarship Concert is being held 2pm on Sunday, September 6, at the Wesley Church, 100 Thirteenth Avenue.  Tickets are $10 from Bureta Pharmacy; House of Travel, Spring Street; or phone John on: 027 2849736. Door sales are welcome.

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