Kiwi Music scholarships awarded to outstanding young performers
24 October 2019 | media
Four talented young performers—baritone Jonathan Eyers, tenor Manase Latu, soprano Sophie Sparrow and pianist Siyu Sun—have been awarded Kiwi Music Scholarships to continue their musical development.
Baritone Jonathan Eyers, aged 24, is currently enrolled at the Guildhall School of Music in London, where he is studying with Robert Dean, Professor of Singing. Jonathan holds a Bachelor of Music (1st class Honours) from the University of Waikato and is partway through his Master’s study at the Guildhall, from which he has also received a scholarship.
Before leaving for London, Jonathan performed extensively with NZ Opera and as a baritone/bass soloist in oratorio roles and concerts. Since being in London, he has made the most of the opportunities offered. “I have been involved in some exciting projects at Guildhall, working with teachers Robert Dean and Stephan Loges, and I feel like I have been able to grow as an artist because of them,” he says.
“Working in Spanish for the Zarzuela project; working with song expert Iain Burnside on the Schubert project Swansong; performing Mozart and Bach as a soloist with a choir in Norway. Perhaps the most exciting opportunity was being asked to sing various roles in the London Symphony Orchestra’s production of Bernstein’s Candide as part of their centenary celebration of the composer…I was able to work alongside singers I have admired for a very long time, including Sir Thomas Allen and Anne Sofie von Otter. It was an incredible experience and encouraged me to continue to strive to make this my career.”
Tenor Manase Latu is being funded to study at the Royal College of Music in London. Twenty-three-year-old Manase studied at the University of Auckland, graduating with a Bachelor of Music (1st class Honours), and has performed extensively in New Zealand and Australia over the past five years, as a soloist and as a member of the Auckland Chamber Choir, New Zealand Youth Choir and Voices New Zealand Chamber Choir, also winning a number of prestigious competitions. In 2018 he was the youngest finalist selected for the Lexus Song quest.
Since leaving university Manase has been an emerging artist with New Zealand Opera, and toured with this year’s production of Barber of Seville.
Manase’s teacher since 2013, Dr Te Oti Rakena, describes him as an ideal recipient of this award. “The breadth of his talent is reflected by his consistent high placing and frequent wins at regional performance competitions, his participation in the New Zealand Youth Choir and Voices New Zealand,” he says. “He has proven his singing prowess across all the national platforms available to young singers in New Zealand and is thoroughly prepared for the next stage of his artistic development.”
Soprano Sophie Sparrow is also halfway through postgraduate study at Guildhall, having already completed both a Bachelor of Accounting and a Bachelor of Music at the University of Otago. Sophie has also received a Guildhall Scholarship to continue her studies.
“The Guildhall’s two-year Artist Masters provides students with the platform and teaching environment to explore every avenue of artistic expression within a supportive and collaborative atmosphere,” say Sophie. “Throughout the second year of the course, I will continue to train my voice, mind, and body to be the best it can possibly be.”
Before moving to London, Sophie worked with NZ Opera, Opera North and Opera Otago as well as performing extensively in competitions. She has also received a Countess of Munster Musical Trust Award (a trust in the UK) for this year. Her principal teachers at Guildhall are Yvonne Kenny and Marcus van den Akker, who describes her voice as having “sonorous, uniquely beautiful and endearing qualities, a wide working vocal range, with warm harmonious tone and presence”.
“Sophie has that strong holistic sense of purpose and passion, has the drive, skill, intelligence and ambition required to succeed in this demanding profession,” he says.
Pianist Siyu Sun, who has studied for her Master of Music at the University of Auckland, plans to use her scholarship to help fund her Artistic Master’s in Performance with Professor Ronan O’Hora at GSMD. “Guildhall School offers an ongoing series of intensive one-to-one lessons, group lessons and masterclasses with international composers and conductors,” says Siyu. “In my two years of study, I intend to take up as many performances opportunities as I can in renowned concert facilities such as Royal Albert Hall, St Martin-in-the-Fields, Cadogan Hall and Wilgmore Hall.”
Her performances in New Zealand have already brought her considerable success. Siyu has appeared as a soloist with the Queensland Symphony Orchestra, the NZSO, the Auckland Philharmonia, and Wellington Chamber Orchestra. She was awarded the 2018 Blues Award for the Most Meritorious Performance in Arts and Cultural, the first prize in the 50th Anniversary National Concerto Competition performing Rachmaninoff’s Concerto No. 2 with the NZSO, and second prize in the Wallace National Piano Competition, among a wide range of other competitions.
Associate Professor Rae de Lisle, who has taught Siyu for several years, describes her as an exemplary student. “Siyu has yet to reach her potential as a musician and her attitude and dedication will mean that she will continue to grow,” she says. “She is realistic about the pathway for a pianist and wants to extend her knowledge and playing ability as much as she can so that she can apply this in all aspects of her musical life. “
Chair of the selection committee, Peter Walls, said the standard of applicants was again very high this year.
“These are some of the finest young musicians this country has produced in recent years. I know they will embrace the opportunities the Kiwi Music Scholarship offers. The panel members and I will follow their future careers with great interest and high expectations.”
The Kiwi Music Scholarship was established in 2009 by Mr Sven Stenbäck in memory of his wife Maida Stenbäck née Saunders, a New Zealander who loved classical music. Funding for the scholarship is made available through the Kiwi Music Scholarship Trust.
The scholarship is to assist New Zealand citizens who have demonstrated accomplishment in musical performance (including vocal performance) or conducting, to enable them to further their musical education.
Applications for the 2020 Kiwi Music Scholarship close on 1 March next year.