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Supporting a young musician's first steps on the world stage

01 June 2023 | media

An outstanding young Aotearoa New Zealand soprano has been awarded a 2023 Kia Ora Foundation Patricia Pratt Scholarship to support her study towards a Master of Music in Performance Classical Voice at San Francisco Conservatory of Music (SFCM).

Image: Larissa Kent

Larissa Kent, aged 25, from Havelock North is thrilled to have been awarded a Kia Ora Foundation Patricia Pratt Scholarship to attend one of the most prestigious music academies in the world.

“I’m so excited to be studying at SFCM, and incredibly grateful for receiving this scholarship to help me get there. Attending SFCM will provide incredible learning opportunities and I am honoured to be accepted into César Ulloa’s studio, one of the world’s finest voice teachers. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity made possible by receiving the Kia Ora Foundation Patricia Pratt Scholarship and I cannot wait to embark on this adventure and to continue sharing my passion for this magnificent art form!”

Larissa graduated in 2022 with a Bachelor of Music with First-Class Honours in Classical Voice Performance from the University of Auckland where she learnt from Swedish mezzo-soprano Catrin Johnsson. For her master’s degree she will participate in a two-year intensive programme consisting of voice lessons, vocal coachings, opera scenes productions, stagecraft, and other collaborative work, as well as many performance opportunities.

Larissa’s vocal coach Rachel Fuller says, “Her high level of musicianship is apparent in her singing with a wonderful sense of legato, attention to details and style, refined ensemble skills and a great desire to find expressive colours in her sound. Larissa is an exceptional talent, with a glorious young voice of enormous potential – and a determination to match.”

Two further scholarships have been awarded to the 2022 Kia Ora Foundation Patricia Pratt Scholarship recipients, Bethany Angus and Felicity Tomkins, to enable a second year of study.


Image: Bethany Angus

Bethany Angus is studying towards a master’s degree in cello performance at the Royal Conservatoire The Hague in the Netherlands.

The Royal Conservatoire is one of the top institutions in the world for early music, a particular passion for Bethany, who as well as being a cellist, is an accomplished keyboardist and plays as a casual harpsichordist with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra. 

For her master’s project, Bethany is writing a guide to baroque cello playing aimed at classical players who would like to explore the baroque style in more depth but may not have access to a baroque cello or high-level teaching.

Felicity Tomkins

Image: Felicity Tomkins

Having enrolled in the summer semester, Felicity Tomkins’ second-year scholarship will enable her to complete the Artist Diploma in Opera Vocal Performance at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (CCM) in August this year.

Highlights of Felicity’s first year at CCM included being the soprano soloist in Mahler’s 4 Symphony with the CCM Chamber Orchestra and an immersion course in Germany for six to eight weeks as part of a new initiative for Artist Diploma students. After she completes her studies, Felicity will debut with the Cincinnati Opera company.

The Kia Ora Foundation Patricia Pratt Scholarship is funded by the Kia Ora Foundation, established in 1997 by Aotearoa New Zealand-born philanthropist Annette Campbell-White in memory of her mother, Patricia Pratt, to help outstanding young New Zealand musicians continue their musical development at a renowned international music school or conservatorium for up to two years. The scholarships are awarded for classical music performance, including vocal or instrumental performance or conducting.

Applications for the 2024 Kia Ora Foundation Patricia Pratt Scholarship open on 1 November and close on 1 March. Further details are on the scholarship’s page on the Universities New Zealand – Te Pokai Tara website.

The scholarship is administered by Universities New Zealand along with around 40 others worth more than $2 million.

For more information or to arrange an interview, contact Universities New Zealand - Te Pōkai Tara Communications Manager Therese Lloyd,, +64 27 636 5050.