News from around the world - Bianca Andrew
Posted on 15 April 2016
The last of the autumn leaves are falling from the trees in London, and I am singing in my final performances of 2015 before the school year finishes for Christmas. Looking back over the past year, everything seems to have flown by so quickly and it makes me feel very lucky to think of all the opportunities and experiences I have had since moving to the UK with the help of the Kiri Te Kanawa Foundation.
The first half of my year was spent focusing very happily on song repertoire. I was given many opportunities to work in masterclasses and on projects with artists such as Graham Johnson, Dame Felicity Lott, Sarah Walker, Martin Katz and Iain Burnside. A particular highlight was taking part in a Lieder masterclass with Roger Vignoles at Wigmore Hall! I think I must have learned over fifty new songs in English, German, French, Swedish, Catalan, Russian, Spanish and Italian since I started at the Guildhall a year ago – it has been like a dream being able to study them all day, every day at school!
In the European summer I returned to New Zealand for a month of performances around the country. I presented two solo recitals; one in Wellington and another for the Auckland Opera Studio with pianist Bruce Greenfield. I then headed off on a tour of New Zealand with the newly-formed Tākiri Ensemble. We were on the road for two weeks, with a programme of beautiful songs and Lieder by German, British and New Zealand composers. I just had time to celebrate my 26th birthday with my family before jetting back to London to begin the 2015 school year - this time as a member of the Opera Course at the Guildhall School of Music.
As I write, I am preparing for the final two performances of our Autumn Opera Scenes. I am singing in scenes from Don Giovanni, Chérubin and War and Peace, and it has been a real learning curve preparing them over the past two months. I feel incredibly fortunate to be a part of the programme here; not only am I financially supported by a full fees scholarship by the School, but my teachers are dedicated to challenging me and helping me to become a totally individual and creative performer.
Over the past year I have also been able to visit Kiri at her home on several occasions – and what a pleasure that has been. It is difficult being on the other side of the world to my family in New Zealand, and I always find that going to see Kiri is like going home for a day! I so appreciate being able to sing for Kiri every few months and hear her feedback and ideas, and to catch up about how things are going at School and in life in general.
I send all my best wishes to the Trustees and many supporters of the Kiri Te Kanawa Foundation for a safe and happy Christmas. Thank-you for making my studies here possible and I look forward to sharing more news with you in the New Year.