Inaugural recipients selected for Te Pae Kōkako

15 December 2022

Madeleine Pierard
Madeleine Pierard, Dame Malvina Major Chair in Opera.

Six promising opera students have been selected for the University of Waikato’s immersive Master of Music programme in Advanced Opera Studies in 2023.

Rhiannon Cooper, Alfred Fonoti-Fuimaono, Emmanuel Fonoti-Fuimaono, Taylor Wallbank, Katherine Winitana and Cecilia Zhang are the first group of students to study the Master of Music programme within the newly-created Te Pae Kōkako: The Aotearoa New Zealand Opera Studio (TANZOS).

TANZOS is the long-held vision of Dame Malvina Major, a Senior Fellow in Music at the University, who has long wanted to see New Zealand’s brightest young opera starts trained in country. TANZOS will provide training from national and international tutors, and the opera students will travel to residencies in New Zealand and abroad. It is the first programme of its kind in New Zealand to combine academic rigour with immersive industry training.

TANZOS is headed by New Zealand soprano Madeleine Pierard, the inaugural Dame Malvina Major Chair in Opera, a role funded by Hamilton philanthropists Sir William and Judi, Lady Gallagher, to acknowledge Dame Malvina Major’s legacy.

Ms Pierard is an internationally recognised opera singer who returned to New Zealand from London to take up the position alongside her international career. She says she is thrilled to welcome the first group of students to TANZOS, and is grateful for the support of donors who have made the programme possible.

“We are extraordinarily grateful for the generosity of our donors, without whom the programme simply wouldn’t have happened. My thanks to these generous outfits who are funding the paces: the Dame Malvina Major Foundation, the Freemasons Foundation, the Sir William and Lady Judi Gallagher Foundation, Dame Jenny Gibbs, and others.

“We are also extremely fortunate to have additional support from Dame Adrienne Stewart and Ros Burdon of Christchurch to support a visit from British baritone Sir Simon Keenlyside, who will host a public masterclass with the students in April next year.”

Students will also receive guest tutoring from several other international experts, and take part in immersive industry residencies with Opera Australia, New Zealand Opera and the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra.

“This programme will truly provide a springboard for Aotearoa’s stunning young singers, and I look forward to working with Rhiannon, Alfred, Emmanuel, Taylor, Katherine and Cecilia as they prepare for careers on the world stage.”

Keep an eye on the TANZOS website and Facebook page for performance dates in 2023, and to stay updated on the progress of the students.

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