The winner of last night’s Lexus Song Quest was Benson Wilson. Benson is 25 years old. He studied music at Auckland University. This year, he sang one of the main roles in the opera La Boheme in Napier. As the winner, he gets $20,000 prize money, a $27,000 scholarship to study music, and $3,000 for international air travel. He is studying in London.
The Song Quest started 60 years ago and some of our most well-known opera singers were winners: Dame Malvina Major won in 1963 and Dame Kiri Te Kanawa won in 1965. They later became famous opera singers in Europe and USA. Both women have supported NZ singers since then through scholarships and personal mentoring.
The Song quest this year started with a preliminary competition in May. Each contestant had to prepare six songs including two in a foreign language and two arias from opera. The judges then asked the contestant to sing four of those. The performance was 15 minutes in total.
Ten singers were chosen for the semi-finals two weeks ago. The judges then chose four contestants for the finals in the Auckland town hall. This year, three of the four were men. They each sang two songs accompanied by a piano, then two songs with the NZ Symphony Orchestra.
All four won good prizes of cash and a study scholarship. These are our best young singers. The sponsors of the event were Toyoto, Dame Kiri Te Kanawa and Dame Malvina Major.
Scroll down to see the four finalists (oval shapes). Benson Wilson is the one on the right.
• quest – search for something, search for the best singer
• role – a part in a play or opera
• mentoring – a mentor is a person who helps someone to achieve success, a teacher or coach
• preliminary – the beginning event
• aria – difficult song from an opera, canatata or mass
• contestants – competitors, people in a contest or competition