The Kiri Programme – first module provided intensive tuition
Posted on 22 December 2016
The top three places in the Dunedin Aria Competition finals in September went to young singers fresh from their first “module” of the Kiri Te Kanawa Foundation’s new singer development programme. Tenor Filipe Manu took top honours, followed by sopranos Natasha Wilson and Madison Nonoa.
The Kiri Programme Administrator, Stephen Dee, says the results, and feedback from the first module, provided ‘proof of concept’ that a small group of talented and motivated singers, given intensive tuition and support from highly experienced and extremely competent coaches, will make fast progress. “This was the experience of all our young singers, each of whom grew in confidence during the week as they cracked technical problems, and improved their preparation and performance techniques. We couldn’t be happier both with our selection of the singers being given this unique opportunity and with the extraordinary group of tutors who have joined us for the Kiri Programme.”
According to Kiri Programme Director, Kathryn Harries, who is director of the National Opera Studio in London, all six singers selected by Dame Kiri and her panel to take part made “major strides” during their intensive week. “This programme has catapulted these six youngsters onto another plane of learning and application and they were hugely inspired and enthusiastic about the new tools we gave them.”
“They are all extremely gifted, not only vocally but also with musicianship and dramatic skills that bode very well for the future. They are very young and the aim of the module was to work at as high a level as possible in order to advance their vocal techniques, interpretative skills and awareness of the many demands of the profession.
“The main thrust of the week was the importance of working in the greatest detail on the text of songs and arias and paying absolute attention to the musical demands of the composers. Without this fundamental and vital work, singers make mistakes which rapidly become obstinate habits which, in turn, have to be painstakingly unlearned – and that is both intellectually and physically a complete waste of time and effort.
“To be given such high level information at this stage in their development is essential if they are to progress safely at overseas conservatoires and on young artist programmes. Too many singers lack this vital information about practice strategies, minutely detailed examination of the text and the music, dedicated hours in front of a mirror to perfect vocal technique and the delivery of text correctly and on support.”
One of the participants, soprano Eliza Boom, says the week will change the way she approaches all her music, a sentiment echoed by Wellingtonian participant Katherine McIndoe. “It’s going to change the way a lot of us learn our music, giving us the tools to prepare more effectively for the work we are going to do ourselves.”
“It was a phenomenal experience,” says Hamilton baritone Jarvis Dams. “An amazing opportunity”. He says the tools learned in the module will allow the young singers to study when they don’t have coaches, and in their own time. “It was all about being selfsufficient, becoming your own teacher, and that is truly unique. All six of us agreed that was something we’ve never experienced in our lives, to be given the tools to be your own coach. With the individual plans and support, this is a truly unique programme.”
As the five modules advance between now and next July, the international and New Zealand-based tutors will range across the business, musical, language and personal skills needed to succeed in what Dame Kiri has called an increasingly tough career.
The overarching theme of the next module in December will be dramatic interpretation and stagecraft. It will be under the direction of one of the world’s leading stage directors of opera, Chuck Hudson, who is being flown from the USA by the Kiri Te Kanawa Foundation.
“Dame Kiri has given these six singers the chance of a lifetime,” says Kathryn Harries. “She should be applauded for her dedication to the development of New Zealand vocal talent – it’s extraordinary.”