25 Jul 2016
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Benson Wilson (25) of Auckland has been named Lexus Song Quest winner at the Grand Final Gala at the Auckland Town Hall tonight. Second place getter was Auckland Tenor Filipe Manu, in third place was Hamilton soprano Madison Nonoa, and Auckland Bass Baritone Tavis Gravatt was in fourth place.
As winner of the 2016 Lexus Song Quest, Benson will receive a cash prize of $20,000 net and a Study Scholarship of $27,000, plus economy international travel up to the value of $3,000. Benson, a New Zealand born Samoan, said he was “blessed to receive this honor and was ready to step up to the challenge.”
Runner-up Filipe Manu receive an immediate cash prize of $8,000 net supported by the Dame Malvina Major Foundation, and a Study Scholarship of $10,000. The third and fourth place-getters each receive an immediate cash prize of $3,500 net.
The four finalists each performed three pieces in front of a live audience - one accompanied by pianist Terence Dennis, and two arias alongside the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Edo de Waart.
Acclaimed soprano and International Lexus Song Quest Judge Yvonne Kenny said she had been impressed by all four “outstanding” finalists and that New Zealand could be “proud that the fine tradition of beautiful voices and refined singing continues.”
The $15,000 Kiri Te Kanawa Foundation scholarship ‘for the singer who shows the most promise’ was also awarded to Madison Nonoa.
Lexus General Manager Marketing Andrew Davis said the Lexus Song Quest Grand Final Gala was an amazing night.
“Lexus is thrilled to continue to support such talented young New Zealanders on a path that has taken the likes of Kiri Te Kanawa and Dame Malvina Major to some of the greatest opera houses in the world. Tonight’s Grand Final at the Auckland Town Hall showcased four unique voices and characters, and Ms Kenny had an unenviable task in deciding the overall winner on the night. We look forward to following the bright futures of Benson, Madison, Filipe and Tavis,” he said.
The Lexus Song Quest is produced by the New Zealand Festival, funded by Creative New Zealand to support the arts.