Opera singer Madeleine Pierard has been named the inaugural Dame Malvina Major Chair in Opera at the University of Waikato.
The new, philanthropically-funded position has been established as part of plans for growth in Music at the University, and to train singers and develop support as they begin their careers. It has been funded by Hamilton’s Sir William and Lady Judi Gallagher to honour the career and contributions of opera singer and Honorary Associate in Music Dame Malvina Major.
Madeleine Pierard is a New Zealand-born and raised opera singer, and has recently returned home from London with her family after performing extensively overseas. Originally from Napier, Madeleine completed her studies in musicology, composition and biomedical science at Victoria University in Wellington. She then completed her MMus at the RCM International Opera School in London, before embarking on an award-winning performing career in residence at London’s Royal Opera House, as well as throughout Europe, Asia and New Zealand.
She says she is thrilled to return to New Zealand, and to Hamilton where she has a strong connection – both of her parents were born here and she spent a lot of her time visiting the region on holiday.
As Chair in Opera, she is looking forward to contributing to the voice programme and sharing her current industry knowledge with the University’s up-and-coming performers.
“I am honoured to come on board as the Dame Malvina Major Chair in Opera, it’s a privilege to add to her kaupapa and to help nurture Aotearoa’s wonderful singers,” Madeleine says.
“New Zealand has an incredible wealth of talented young singers and having been supported so well in New Zealand myself I am looking forward to sharing my performing and industry knowledge with them and contributing to the mana of the wider community.”
In particular, Madeleine says she is keen to help students adopt a holistic approach to opera and performing, especially in the industry’s ever-changing landscape.
“With artists really feeling the brunt of the global pandemic, Covid-19 has highlighted not only how much the world needs the arts, but also the value we need to be showing our artists and performers and recognising their professional worth.
“I think this is the direction our industry will keep moving in, and I’m excited to highlight to students the opportunities that are out there and help them discover their place in the performing world.”
Pro Vice-Chancellor Arts, Law, Psychology and Social Sciences Professor Patrick Leman says Madeleine’s appointment will help bolster the music programme’s vision for growth, while also opening its doors to the wider community.
“Madeleine will be a wonderful asset to the University. Our students will benefit from her expertise and she will add a powerful new dimension to our music programme. We want music at the University of Waikato to be a beacon and a resource, not just for the University but the whole community, to allow as many people as possible the opportunity to experience world-class facilities, teaching, and performances.”
Sir William and Lady Judi Gallagher say they are pleased with Madeleine’s appointment. “It is clear that Madeleine’s talent and passion for opera and performing make her a fitting choice for a role named after Dame Malvina Major, who has also been a passionate supporter of the University and music. We are proud to lend our support to the Chair in Opera role and look forward to seeing the music programme further grow and develop to help burgeoning singers realise their ambitions.”