LEXUS SONG QUEST 2016

On our journey to find the voices of tomorrow, Lexus Song Quest has discovered the great singers of today. Dame Kiri Te Kanawa and Dame Malvina Major, Jonathan Lemalu, and Sol3 Mio’s Amitai Pati – they are all previous Lexus Song Quest winners who now grace the opera stages of the world. In 2016 the stakes had never been higher, with $90,000 in prizes to be won.

 

Lexus-Song-Quest-2016-prizegiving-please-credit-Jeremy-Toth

Benson Wilson (right) wins 2016 Lexus Song Quest with runner-up Filipe Manu, fourth place-getter Tavis Gravatt and third place-getter Madison Nonoa (L-R).

THE FINALISTS

Tavis Gravatt Filipe Manu Madison Nonoa Benson Wilson

Tavis Gravatt

Tavis Gravatt was the 2016 Lexus Song Quest fourth place-getter.

Age: 29
Voice: Bass Baritone
Resident: Auckland

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Tavis Gravatt

After singing lead and supporting roles with Auckland’s Opera Factory, in 2010 Tavis won the Becroft Operatic Aria category in the North Shore singing competitions, which granted him entry to the McDonald’s Operatic Aria Competition in Sydney, where he reached the quarter-finals. A few years later he placed third in the final of the New Zealand Aria Competition.  At present he sings with the New Zealand Opera Chorus and performs in concerts around New Zealand while holding down a professional business position at Fisher & Paykel Healthcare.


Filipe Manu

Filipe Manu was the 2016 Lexus Song Quest runner-up.

Age: 23
Voice: Tenor
Resident: Hamilton

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Filipe Manu

Filipe holds an ATCL Diploma through Trinity College London and is completing postgraduate study at the University of Waikato as a Sir Edmund Hillary Scholar. Filipe has been a student at the New Zealand Opera School since 2013 and was named 2014’s New Zealand Young Performer of the Year. He was a finalist in the New Zealand that same year and in 2015 was Aria named a Dame Malvina Major Emerging Artist with New Zealand Opera. Filipe regularly sings in the New Zealand Opera Chorus and has sung lead tenor roles in the Barber of Seville and the Elixir of Love in the company’s schools adapted productions.


Madison Nonoa

Madison Nonoa was the 2016 Lexus Song Quest third place-getter.

Age: 23
Voice: Soprano
Resident: Hamilton

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Madison Nonoa

Madison has a Bachelor of Music with first-class honours from the University of Auckland. She is a Sir Edmund Hillary Scholar at the University of Waikato, where she is studying French and German.  A Dame Malvina Major Emerging Artist with New Zealand Opera, she this year performs Papagena in The Magic Flute. She is a former member of the New Zealand Youth Choir, an alumna of the New Zealand Opera School and New Zealand Singing School and has been a finalist and winner of many aria competitions around the country. In the 2014 Lexus Song Quest, Madison was the youngest semi-finalist and RNZ Concert Listeners’ Choice Award winner.


Benson Wilson

Benson Wilson was the winner of the 2016 Lexus Song Quest.

Age: 25
Voice: Baritone
Resident: Auckland

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Benson Wilson

Benson Wilson completed his Bachelor of Music with honours at the end of 2014 at the University of Auckland. Earlier this year, he debuted in his first principal operatic role as Schaunard in La Boheme with Festival Opera in Napier. In 2014, while still a student, he came second in the Lexus Song Quest, while last year he was third in the New Zealand Aria Competition and a finalist in the North Shore Aria Competition. In the finals of last year’s IFAC Australian Singing Competition, Benson won three major prizes, one of which allows him to study at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London.

THE SEMI-FINALISTS

Bradley Christensen Jarvis Dams Harry Grigg Emily Mwila Sophie Sparrow Imogen Thirlwall

Bradley Christensen

Age: 29
Voice: Baritone
Resident: Toronto, Canada

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Bradley Christensen

A graduate of the University of Auckland, Bradley completed a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in Italian, and a Bachelor of Music with honours in singing. The recipient of a University of Toronto – Faculty of Music Vocal Performance and Pedagogy Graduate Award, he completed a Master of Music at the university. During his Auckland studies, he won the Pears-Britten and Marie D’Albini singing scholarships. Since immigrating to Canada, Bradley has performed across the country with numerous organisations. He returns to New Zealand as often as he can – most recently as a finalist in the New Zealand Aria Competition.


Jarvis Dams

Age: 25
Voice: Baritone
Resident: Hamilton

 

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Jarvis Dams

A 2014–2015 New Zealand Opera Dame Malvina Major Emerging Artist, Jarvis holds a Master of Music with first-class honours from the University of Waikato.  He completed a vocal apprenticeship programme at Astoria Music Festival (Oregon, USA) and received the University of Waikato Sir Edmund Hillary Scholarship, the University of Waikato Creative and Performing Arts Blue Award (2009–2013) and  the University of Waikato Aria Award (2011). In 2015 Jarvis placed third in the New Zealand Aria Competition and was winner of the national Lieder Prize. His roles for New Zealand Opera include Imperial Commissioner in Madama Butterfly and Jailer in Tosca.


Harry Grigg

Age: 19
Voice: Tenor
Resident: Dunedin

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Harry Grigg

Harry is in his second year of study towards a Bachelor of Music majoring in classical performance voice at the University of Otago, and is being taught by Judith Henley. He was a recipient of a 2015 University of Otago Callis Trust performance scholarship and the 2016 Colin McDonald Memorial Prize. Harry attended the New Zealand Opera School earlier this year and also performed the role of Ben in The Telephone for Opera Otago’s series of house concerts.


Emily Mwila

Age: 25
Voice: Soprano
Resident: Wellington

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Emily Mwila

Emily has been studying voice under the tutelage of Flora Edwards for the past six years. She has been selected for the Lexus Song Quest masterclass series twice and last year was a semi-finalist in the McDonald’s Operatic Aria Competition in Sydney. Emily will make her debut performance as ‘Zerlina’ in Don Giovanni in Wellington later this year. Earlier in the year, she auditioned successfully, also gaining a scholarship, for the International Vocal Arts Institute summer programme, taking place in New York City in June 2016.  In 2017, she plans to head to the United States to undertake a master’s degree in voice.


Sophie Sparrow

Age: 23
Voice: Soprano
Resident: Dunedin

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Sophie Sparrow

Sophie is in the final semester of a Bachelor of Commerce majoring in accounting at the University of Otago. She has also completed a Bachelor of Music with first-class honours in classical voice performance. She was runner-up in the 2015 Dame Malvina Major Foundation Aria Competition in Dunedin, runner-up in the 2015 Dunedin Performing Arts Competitions Society Recital Award, and recipient of the 2014 Dunedin Music Society Award for Excellence in Vocal Performance and Opera North Scholarship. She has performed the roles of Paminain Opera Otago’s The Magic Flute and Barbarina in Opera Otago’s The Marriage of Figaro. 


Imogen Thirlwall

Age: 27
Voice: Soprano
Resident: Wellington

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Imogen Thirlwall

Imogen has a Master of Music with merit in classical voice performance from the New Zealand School of Music, following a first-class Bachelor of Music with honours in voice. She attended the New Zealand Opera School from 2011–2013.  Her prizes include finalist in the 2015 New Zealand Aria Competition and finalist and twice winner of the most outstanding senior vocalist award in the Dame Malvina Major Foundation Aria Competition in Wellington. Imogen has been a member of the New Zealand Opera Chorus since 2012, and recently understudied in the roles of Papagena and Second Boy in The Magic Flute.

THE PRIZES

The Lexus Song Quest prize-winners will receive both a cash prize and a Lexus Study Scholarship

First place logo

THE WINNER

Will receive an immediate cash prize of $20,000 net and a Study Scholarship of $27,000, plus economy international travel up to the value of $3,000.

Second place logo

RUNNER-UP

Will receive an immediate cash prize of $8,000 net supported by the Dame Malvina Major Foundation and a Study Scholarship of $10,000.

First place logo

ADDITIONAL PRIZES

Third and fourth place getters will each receive an immediate cash prize of $3,500 net. A $15,000 Kiri Te Kanawa Foundation scholarship will also be awarded.

EVENTS

GRAND FINAL GALA

Saturday 23 July - Auckland Town Hall

Be there as we discover New Zealand opera's voice of tomorrow ...

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LEXUS MASTERCLASS

Sunday 24 July - Auckland Town Hall

Lexus is committed to New Zealand singers and their teachers.

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PREVIOUS QUEST WINNER

“Winning felt amazing and a little bit surreal! It is an honour to have my name alongside the likes of Dame Kiri Te Kanawa and Dame Malvina Major as a Lexus Song Quest winner.”

ISABELLA MOORE

ISABELLA MOORE

Winner 2014