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previous winner
2007 Lexus Song Quest winner Phillip Rhodes. Photo: Doug Cole

New Zealand’s most famous singing competition is now underway.

Twelve semi-finalists have been selected in the 2009 Lexus Song Quest. The final concert will be in the Auckland Town Hall on Thursday 23 April, 2009. For a list of the semi-finalists and competition updates click here.

The Song Quest is a proven springboard for young singers and lhas helped to aunch the international careers of previous winners Kiri Te Kanawa, Malvina Major, Teddy Tahu Rhodes and Jonathan Lemalu.

After the success of the 2007 inaugural Lexus Song Quest Recital Tour, the 2009 Song Quest will continue with this exciting development. The top three prize-winners will tour the country giving audiences around New Zealand a chance to hear these promising young performers first hand. After the final concert in Auckland’s Town Hall on 23 April the Recital Tour will take the winners to Christchurch(26 April), Dunedin (28 April) and Wellington (30 April). Accompanied by Terence Dennis these joint recitals will also give the prize-winners a taste of professional touring.

The judge for the Final is one of the world’s leading heroic tenors of our generation, Siegfried Jerusalem. Prof Jerusalem is particularly associated with the roles of Wagner and his many appearances at the Bayreuth Festival, but his illustrious career took him also to the leading opera houses and concert halls throughout Europe and the States.

The judging process of the Lexus Song Quest is designed to find and showcase New Zealand’s most talented young singers with international potential. Singers between the age of 17 and 32 are eligible to enter the Lexus Song Quest.

The entrants had to prepare six items – two operatic arias; an aria from oratorio, mass or cantata; a European art song and two items of their own choice. They submitted this programme with their entry form and entrants unable to attend live auditions in New Zealand were able to submit a recording of their six items at the same time.

At auditions in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin during the week of 17 November, 2008, a panel of three preliminary judges selected 12 semi-finalists. The semi-finalists will make a recording of their submitted programme in early 2009. From these recordings the judges will select the six finalists who will compete in the final concert on 23 April 2009 to determine the 2009 Lexus Song Quest winner.

The preliminary judges for the 2009 Lexus Song Quest are Annabelle Cheetham, Rosemary Barnes and Richard Greager.

Both Lexus New Zealand and the New Zealand International Arts Festival, which manages the Song Quest, are commited to the development of professional singing throughout the whole country. For this reason, following the final, the international judge Siegfried Jerusalem will take Lexus Song Quest Masterclasses in the four main centres. The singers participating in the Lexus Song Quest Masterclasses will be selected from the entrants to the Lexus Song Quest and the classes will be free for teachers, singers and members of the public to observe.

For further information on the Lexus Song Quest, please contact lexussongquest@festival.co.nz.

Lexus finalists
Above, left to right: Finalists of the 2007 Lexus Song Quest Claire Barton, Emma Fraser, Phillip Rhodes, Frances Moore, Aivale Cole and Wade Kernot. Photo: Doug Cole