South Auckland boy wins Lexus Song Quest
The Lexus Song Quest
Michael Fowler Centre
Lexus Song Quest Winners’ Recital
Saturday 1 September 7.30pm,
Holy Trinity Cathedral, Parnell, Auckland
It seemed as though half of South Auckland had packed the Michael Fowler Centre on Thursday night. They had come to support the Manukau boy, Amitai Pati singing in the Lexus Song Quest and he rewarded them with a big win and big smile in carrying off the award.
The young tenor from who is from Mangere and studies at the University of Auckland impressed the International Judge, tenor Dennis O’Neill with his performances of Strauss’ Allerseelen accompanied by pianist Terence Dennis aswell singing Verdi’s Lunge da lei and Gounod’s Ah! Lève toi, Soleil accompanied by the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra conducted by renowned operatic conductor Oliver von Dohnányi.
In winning the title he joins the ranks of previous award winners who include Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, Dame Malvina Major, Jonathan Lemalu, Teddy Tahu Rhodes and 2009 winner Aivale Cole. He said: “It’s unbelievable. I know a few of the guys that have won the competition and to join them is an absolute honour. Coming from such humble beginnings to this makes me incredibly happy.”
He also makes some sort of operatic singing history as his brother Darren Pene Pati won the prestigious Australian singing competition, The Sydney Eisteddfod Macdonalds Aria. Together they will make an impressive singing duo.
He has extensive experience and most recently performed in NBR New Zealand Opera’s Hohepa for the New Zealand International Arts Festival and Rigoletto. Later this year he will perform as the lead tenor in Auckland Youth Orchestra’s tour of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony before heading to the Wales International Academy of Voice to further his studies.
Speaking about the award, Judge Dennis O’Neill said that as in all major competitions like the Lexus they are all winners, it just that some are bigger winners than others.
Singing the Strauss Allerseelen Amitai Pati initially showed off his brilliantly modulated voice in which he captured the full sense of reflection and grief required of the song.
Then, singing as Alfredo in the aria Lunge da lei he from La Traviata he gave an engaging performance, portraying the introspection of the charcater while reaching out to the audience. Singing Ah! Lève toi, soleil he was a supremely naturalistic Romeo expressing youthful dilemmas and a sense of idyllic love.
In all his songs he combined passion and personality, presenting as a natural and accomplished performer.
In second place was Stephen Diaz, the first countertenor to have featured in the awards as a finalist.
It’s a style of singing which has a limited opportunities and roles and he had carefully chosen works which demonstrated his skill. These included a Chausson song and arias by Britten and Handel.
He conveyed the surreal exoticism of the Chausson and in the aria from Britten A Midsummer’s Nights Dream he sang as one of the primary instruments, integrating himself superbly into the orchestra. It was in his singing as Xerxes that he shone through, expressing the essential conflicts and drama of the charcater with a thrilling sound.
Third place getter Alexander Wilson displayed a remarkably clear and pure, choir boy-like voice but in his singing of the Schubert’s Auf Dem Wasser he managed to insert a tinge of the composer’s sadness and despair.
He demonstrated excellent vocal control in his two arias where he used his voice to great effect especially in his singing Vainement ma bien-aimee from Lalo’s Le roi d’Ys with a poignant romanticism.
One of the most assured performances was from the unplaced Bryony Williams who provided three impressive and diverse pieces; a Duparc song and arias from Mozart and Stravinsky.
Singing Duparc’s L’invitation au voyage she was like a fate or siren with her enticing voice responding to the eerie music. Singing the two arias her acting skills added to her emotional interpretation along with a great sense of pace texture and control.
The other two finalists were Grace Park, Kawiti Waetford
As winner, Amitai receives a cash prize of $10,000 and a Study Scholarship of $15,000 plus a return economy international airfare. Cash prizes ($8000 for second place and $5000 for third place) and scholarships were awarded to the runners-up and the other three finalists were each awarded $3,500. The second runner-up prize is funded by the Malvina Major Foundation.
Speaking of the future of the Lexus Song Quest, Toyota New Zealand’s CEO Alistair Davis said that the company’s support of the awards was a simple commercial relaity. In the current economic timer “It forces you to examine what you believe is important and we see the need to support young people and support New Zealand art and culture, which helps define us as a country”
The three prize-winners perform a Winners’ Recital in Auckland with pianist Terence Dennis in Auckland on Saturday 1 September at the Holy Trinity Cathedral. Tickets are available from Ticketek for this concert.
Audiences can see Judge Dennis O’Neill and a selection of the 2012 Lexus Song Quest applicants hone their technique at a series of nationwide masterclasses that are free to the public. They are held on Friday 31 August at 7.30pm in Sacred Heart Cathedral, Wellington; on Monday 3 September at 7.30pm in Holy Trinity Cathedral, Auckland; on Wednesday 5 September at 7.30pm in Middleton Grange Performing Arts Centre, Christchurch; and on Friday 7 September at 7.30pm, Marama Hall, Otago University, Dunedin. The masterclass series is funded by the Dame Kiri Te Kanawa Foundation.