Music to their ears

10 May 2018

University of Waikato Hillary scholars Matthias Balzat (left) and Filipe Manu (right).

University of Waikato Hillary scholars Matthias Balzat and Filipe Manu have been awarded the 2018 Patricia Pratt Scholarship in musical performance – two of only three recipients this year.

The Patricia Pratt scholarship assists outstanding New Zealand musical performers who have completed the equivalent of an honours degree in any field of musical performance in New Zealand to continue their musical development at a renowned international music school or conservatorium.

Bachelor of Music with Honours graduate Matthias has been playing the cello since he was three, and began his degree at Waikato University at the age of 14. The former Wentworth College student has multiple awards under his belt, including first prize at PACANZ (Performing Arts Competition Association of New Zealand) and the grand prize at the National Concerto Competition, but this latest honour has added significance.

“I was over the moon when I got the news about the scholarship and it hasn’t sunk in yet,” he says. “It feels amazing to have the financial support and backing to continue to follow my dreams and to grow as a musician.” Matthias is flying to Germany this week to audition for a masters degree, before heading to Colorado to take part in a two-month long festival.

Rising opera star and University of Waikato graduate Filipe Manu holds a Bachelor of Music and a Postgraduate Diploma in Music with Distinction, and is currently studying at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London. The 25-year-old is no stranger to accolades and achievement, taking out top prize at the Australian Singing Competition last year and being one of the inaugural singers in the Dame Kiri Te Kanawa Foundation Singers’ Development programme.

Filipe is very grateful to be a recipient of such a generous scholarship. “The financial commitment of studying abroad is a big one, and what this scholarship allows me to do is to continue with the hard work put in during my first year,” he says. “I'm currently on the opera programme at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, and in my second year I'm excited to tackle two of the most demanding roles in the operatic tenor repertory, which will no doubt be an important stepping stone in my career. As a graduate, I'm proud to be representing the University of Waikato on the international stage.”

Both graduates have been Hillary scholars at the University of Waikato – a scholarship programme for students who perform to a high standard in arts or sports.

Dean of Graduate Research Professor Kay Weaver is pleased the students’ hard work and determination has paid off. “This is an exceptional achievement for Matthias and Filipe,” she says. “Sir Edmund Hillary would have been proud to see these graduates representing New Zealand overseas and taking on new international challenges. We wish them the very best in their endeavours."

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