Singers supported by the Kiri Te Kanawa Foundation
Posted on 22 December 2016
Since completing my apprenticeship with the National Opera Studio, I have been very busy in New Zealand with four months of continuous work. Like most New Zealand singers, moving to either the U.K. or America, visas are an important step in that process. The Kiri Te Kanawa Foundation (UK) has supported me through this complex process, led by Deborah Sanders. Everything has been sent off so I now I just have to wait for the final verdict.
Filling in time back in New Zealand was not a problem – I debuted with New Zealand Opera singing the role of Marchese in their production of La Traviata. Then I sang the role of Montano (Otello) with the APO followed almost immediately by rehearsals for Handel’s opera Oreste (singing King Toante), which was a treat as it is so rarely performed. I wrapped up the 2015/16 season singing again with NZ Opera in their acclaimed production of Sweeney Todd.
It’s great to be heading back to London with a few more roles on my resume! Outside of productions, I sang a number of concerts including a very special recital for the Victoria League Trust where I sang as a thank you for their support during my residency at the National Opera Studio. We were lucky to have Dame Kiri present and it was such a wonderful occasion.
Back in London I’ve begun auditioning for projects next year including the bass soloist role in The Messiah with Auckland Choral. This week I will also be visiting Dame Kiri, who has (once again!) offered support during this period of auditioning.
If things go to plan I will return in the New Year to continue “breaking into” the UK market: like any business, it requires not only a marketable product but lots of networking, and a bit of luck! It goes without saying that the support I have received and continue to receive from the Foundation is a huge help in this time of growth and transition in my career. I am as always most grateful!
During my final year at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama I sang the role of Philomène in Martinu’s opera Alexandre Bis, and, in a double bill of Stravinsky’s Mavra and Tchaikovsky’s Iolanta. Next term we are presenting a brand new opera, The Tale of Januarie by Julian Philips and Stephen Plaice. I am also delighted to have been selected to sing the title role in Handel’s Radamisto.
Earlier this year I was the winner of the Song Prize in the Ferrier Awards, and am about to head off on a Samling Foundation Artist Residency to work with Malcolm Martineau and Angelika Kirschlager and then with Dame Ann Murray and Eugene Asti in the Ferrier Awards Masterclasses, and with Sir Thomas Allen at the Wigmore Hall as part of the Samling Foundation’s 20th Anniversary celebrations.
As part of my continuing professional singing work I’m very excited to be singing the role of Meg Page with the Cambridge Philharmonic Orchestra and conductor Timothy Redmond in a semi-staged performance of Verdi’s Falstaff in December. Back in New Zealand for Christmas I will be singing in the Auckland Choral Society’s production of The Messiah and to see my family - including my new baby brother or sister who is due to be born in late November!
2017 includes a performance of Thomas Adès’ America: A Prophecy in May, graduation from the Opera Studies programme at Guildhall and a trip home to join the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra and Giordano Bellincampi in a performance of Puccini’s Manon Lescaut, as the Madrigal Singer.
Looking out past graduation from a conservatoire programme into the big, wide world of freelance work is terribly daunting, which is why I feel very fortunate to receive mentorship and support from Dame Kiri and her Foundation. I am also grateful to the many Kiwi singers, conductors and coaches who continue to give me advice and guidance whenever I need it.
Just prior to Aria going to press Deborah Sanders (who has been working on James’s behalf ) announced:
“James has landed his first job from his first audition! James sang for Iford Arts last week, and they asked for three arias (instead of the usual two) – often a good sign. He has just been offered the role of Colline in their summer festival production of La Boheme in May 2017. Additionally the company has asked him to audition next week for the creative team who will produce the company’s second production in the season, and he sings for the role of Zebul Jephth; they have already expressed interest in him for the role so I hope we’ll see him singing two roles at the Festival next May. Indications are that his UK visa will be approved in the New Year, and in that event James can look forward to continuing his career in the UK.”