A career going places

25 July 2018

Blaire White
Blaire White with her Waikato University singing teachers Glenese Blake and Dame Malvina Major.

University of Waikato graduate Blaire White has scored a year-long fellowship in the UK. Blaire is a singer, a soprano who studied music at Waikato, completing bachelors and masters degrees. Her masters study focussed on how opera companies can best engage with a diverse range of people, and she says the Pettman DARE Fellowship seemed like a natural progression in her learning.

The fellowship provides early career professionals in music engagement with a year of practice-led research in the Education Department of Opera North at the University of Leeds. It runs for 12 months starting in September. It is funded through the generosity of Maureen Pettman and her late husband Barrie with two fellows appointed each year, one from the UK and one from New Zealand.

Since graduating, Blaire’s continued to perform and has been working in event management with the H3 Group at Hamilton City Council. “I've been wanting to take the next step in my career and develop my events experience in an arts company, and since I'm passionate about opera, the Pettman DARE Fellowship was the perfect step,” she says.

Pettman fellows complete masters-level modules on topics relevant to arts education, and through practice-based research and academic study graduate with a Postgraduate Diploma in Performing Arts Management.

“It’s a great opportunity for young professionals to get into the music industry and learn more about how we use music to best engage with our local communities,” says Blaire. “I'll be able to explore how Opera North is engaging and educating local communities in the north of England, how they’re demystifying opera and developing future audiences.”

When she returns to New Zealand, Blaire will work with NZ Opera, instigating a project based on what she learns in the UK. “Right now I don’t know what that will be, but I’m sure I’ll come home with plenty of ideas.”

She says the University of Waikato was a great place to kick-start her career. “Where do I start! I initially chose to study at Waikato due to the Hillary Scholarship and the teaching staff in the Music Department, namely Dame Malvina Major and Glenese Blake.

“The Hillary Scholarship inspired me to look at what I can do to make a positive difference in the world. This resulted in me organising fundraising concerts and events for the Himalayan Trust, developing my management skills and giving me a taste of the events industry.”

Blaire got to travel to Nepal as a Step Higher scholar and as a postgraduate Hillary scholar was able to continue singing training and further develop her interest and knowledge in arts management. “I was able to work behind the scenes with NZ Opera as an arts administration intern, gaining valuable work experience and insight into how arts companies operate. Alongside this I was able to continue my vocal studies with incredible teachers and perform throughout New Zealand.”

Blaire leaves for the UK in September.

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