Kawiti Waetford’s letter from Cardiff
Posted on 18 December 2014
After a surprisingly beautiful, yet short, British summer we are now back into the start of another academic year here at the Wales International Academy of Voice in Cardiff, feeling yet again the cold creeping tendrils of winter coming on. This year’s intake includes international student from Lithuania, Germany, Ireland, Australian, China, New Zealand (including Fredi Jones, Christie Cook, and Andrew Grenon), and of course students from the United Kingdom itself.
This semester’s visiting faculty includes: Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, Gareth Jones (conductor & coach, Welsh National Opera), Julian Smith, Susan Bullock, Tina Ruta (Italian language coach), Anthony Negus (coach & conductor, and Wagner specialist), Andrew Greenwood (conductor & coach), Julie Pasturaud (French language coach), Joyce Fieldsend, Marco Canepa (Italian coach), Ryland Davies, Tanya Harrison (Russian/Czech language), Jacqueline Pischorn (German language), Della Jones (Welsh soprano & coach).
As most young singers who leave New Zealand to further their studies overseas know, getting permission to stay in whatever country they have moved to is one of the biggest issues we face. I had two options; return to NZ to wait and apply for a two-year Youth Mobility Visa, after which time I would have to return to NZ anyway; or make an application for further leave to remain in the UK as a dependant of an ancestry visa holder. So I chose to remain in the UK with my partner Jess, in order to apply for the latter. The information provided by the UK Home Office on immigration laws is vast, convoluted and confusing, and I spent hours researching and checking through what applications to fill out and how. I am extremely grateful to both trustee member Chris Welch and the Kiri Te Kanawa Foundation UK for putting me in touch with immigration law firm Fragomen LLP, and the financial assistance provided to me to receive their help. Without this assistance, to ensure that I met every criterion and correctly filled in every detail of the application, I do know that I would not have been successful and my application approved. As it stands I now have the right to live and work in the UK for the next five years, to build and develop my career, and give it the best possible chance I can – thank you.
In addition, I would also like to thank the Foundation for the grant I was given to attend the Wales International Academy of Voice Summer School towards the end of August. This week of intensive lessons provided a good transition between the lessons Dennis O’Neill had very generously been giving me over the summer period, and the coming academic year. These helped me to get back into shape following the severe antibiotic reaction that I had last semester, inhibiting me from singing for a number of weeks. Students from several nations including Russia, Spain, Brazil, Ukraine, New Zealand, Germany, Mexico, America, and the UK attended this school, providing a great scope of young singers from whom I could learn and observe. This was a fantastic opportunity to put into practice all that I had been working on with Dennis, and I was thrilled to find that my voice and technique had radically improved, along with my faculties for critical analysis.
In September I accompanied Dame Kiri to Holland, where she was invited to adjudicate the International Vocal Competition 2014 in ‘s-Hertogenbosch. This was an amazing opportunity to observe a high-level international singing competition with young singers from all over the world, being exposed to a range of different repertoire, and to see how this particular competition was run. Dame Kiri introduced me to a number of interesting and important people, including Wagnerian tenor, Siegfried Jerusalem; artistic consultant for both the Salzburg Festival and Lyric Opera Chicago, Evamaria Wieser; Dutch mezzosoprano, Anne Gjevang; Irish conductor, Kenneth Montgomery; and director of the Vienna State Opera and artistic advisor to the Metropolitan Opera, Dr. Ioan Holender. It was also my first time to the Netherlands, and on an afternoon off we took a trip to the town of Kleve, also my first time to Germany. After fifteen days being immersed in the competition, making new friends and being invited back to stay, I feel inspired to enter in the next round of the bi-annual competition – leaving time enough to improve my Dutch!
I am thoroughly looking forward to my second year at WIAV working with Dennis and his faculty to develop my vocal technique and performance skills further and build upon the progress I have made thus far. Once again, my deepest thanks goes to Dame Kiri and the Kiri Te Kanawa Foundation for your unwavering support, and the great efforts you make in nurturing and supporting other young singers.
To David and Corina Silich and The James Wallace Arts Trust whose generous contributions have made it possible for me to continue my studies, I cannot thank enough. To the Ngarimu VC and Māori Battalion Fund Board and the multitude of people back home who have supported me and continue to support me in my journey, I humbly thank you – E kore aku mihi āroha e mutu kei aku toa takitini.