2008 Competition

Winners

Maria Okunev (soprano)

The First prize, the Mietta Prize $5,000 was awarded to twenty-four year old Victorian soprano Siobhan Stagg. Siobhan is also the recipient of The O’Donnell Family Prize $4,000 for the study of Italian language and culture and the Tait Memorial Trust Prize.

Jem Harding (pianist)

The Hugh D.T.Williamson Prize (First Prize Pianist) of $5,000 was awarded to Victorian pianist Amir Farid who was Stagg’s accompanist.

Judges

  • Margaret Baker-Genovesi
  • Professor Emeritus John Poynter AO OBE
  • Richard Bonynge AO CBE
  • Richard Mills AM
  • Stephen McIntyre AM

Performers

Barbara Zavros (soprano)

Barbara Zavros was born in Melbourne and holds a Bachelor of Music, Honours (Victorian College of the Arts) and Master of Music (Guildhall School of Music and Drama, UK).

She has won the Athenaeum Award, the Murray Ormond Vagg Scholarship, the Mabel Kent Estate Scholarship, and the Margaret Sutherland Bursary Award. In 2004, she was a finalist in the Australian Singing Competition, where she won the Guildhall School of Music and Drama Award, which enabled her to study in the UK on full scholarship.

Her operatic repertoire includes the roles of Patience in Patience (Savoy Opera Company, September 2004), Dorabella in Cosi Fan Tutte (In Good Company, March 2005), Lover in Il Tabarro (GSMD, June 2006), Medoro in Orlando and Tamiri in Mozart’s Il Re Pastore (Lyric Opera of Melbourne, April 2008) and Barbarina in Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro (Melbourne Opera, July 2008).

Oratorio engagements include soloist in Mendelssohn’s Elijah (Royal Melbourne Philharmonic Society) and Vivaldi’s Gloria (Box Hill Chorale).

In July 2008, Barbara will also sing in the finals of the Italian Opera Scholarship (Opera Foundation Australia).
Full performer profile…

Jodie Lockyer (pianist)

Jodie Lockyer is a graduate of The Victorian College of the Arts where she studied piano with Michael Kieran Harvey. In 1991, she was the winner of the Bill Burrell Memorial Trust scholarship which enabled her to study accompaniment with Margaret Schoefield.

In 1996, Jodie travelled to England where she was a student of the Royal Northern College of Music, majoring in accompaniment with John Wilson and Carole Pressland.

In 1997 she was the winner of the Margaret Tudor Evans Prize for piano accompaniment and was a finalist in The Royal Overseas League competition.

Jodie has been an accompanist for the Royal Melbourne Philharmonic Society, The Melbourne University Choral Society and has recently taught at Loreto Mandeville Hall and Westbourne Grammar. She is currently an accompanist for The Victorian College of the Arts, Melbourne and Monash universities and is a regular performer at the RACV club.

Jodie has also worked extensively for Opera Australia in the role of pianist for the Victorian Schools Company Education program and in 2006 toured with Oz Opera through NSW and SA as orchestral pianist for Carmen.

Jodie has appeared in masterclasses with Victor Morris Malcolm Martineau, Geoffrey Parsons, Anne Howells and Ronald Farren Price. She has also recorded CDs with the RNCM Wind Orchestra available on the Chandos label.


Full performer profile…

Program

Semifinal



Ravel

Resurrection from Chants de Terre et de Ciel

Kaddisch from Deux Mélodies Hébraïques



Barber

Sea-Snatch from Hermit Songs

Slumber Song of the Madonna



Messiaen

Resurrection from Chants de Terre et de Ciel



Rorem

Alleluia

Final



Schumann

Frauenliebe und Leben

Seit ich ihn gesehen

Er, der herrlichste von Allen

Ich kann‘s nicht fassen



Wolf

Lied der Mignon

II. Nur wer die Sehnsucht kennt

III. So lasst mich scheinen bis ich werde

Mignon: Kennst du das Land



Poulenc

Miroirs brûlants

Tu vois le feu du soir

Je nommerai ton front

Diipti Firmstone (soprano)

Diipti Firmstone is a singer and voice teacher trained extensively in the classical vocal technique. She has excelled in many musical genres with strong performance experience in opera, musical theatre, jazz and contemporary styles.

Diipti graduated from the Queensland Conservatorium of Music in 2006 with a Bachelor of Music (Performance & Pedagogy), studying voice with Jason Barry Smith. She is currently studying for a Graduate Diploma of Music in Opera Performance at the same institution under Professor Jan Delpratt. Diipti has appeared in Brisbane in local musical theatre productions, and in various concerts as a guest artist, as well as multiple performances at the Queensland Conservatorium of Music in opera and stage productions and concerts.

Since 2006, Diipti has won the Music Teachers’ Association of Queensland Inc Senior Operatic Aria prize 2007, placed second in the Southeast Queensland Aria Competition 2007, was awarded the Queensland Conservatorium’s Linda Edith Ellen Postgraduate Scholarship 2007, and placed first in 2006 and second in 2007 in the Margaret Nickson Prize. Diipti is a member of Opera Queensland and is the resident soprano for Albert St Uniting Church’s Vocal Quartet, Wesley Voices.
Full performer profile…

Catherine Lynagh (pianist)

Catherine Guinevere Lynagh studied piano at the Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University with Oleg Stepanov. She has been a first prize winner of the Queensland Piano Competition, the Charles and Motee Rogers Memorial Piano Competition, and the Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University's Margaret Nickson Prize.

In March 2007, Catherine and fellow pianist, Adam Gordon Herd, who form Duo Navitas, made their debut with the Queensland Orchestra performing Poulenc's Concerto for Two Pianos to great acclaim. Catherine has performed works for solo piano and orchestra in such halls as the Roy Thomson Hall in Toronto and in the Avery Fisher Hall at the Lincoln Center in New York City. She has also toured Australia and New Zealand as a soloist.

Catherine has also performed in a number of Queensland Symphony Orchestra Chamber Concerts and continues to perform with acclaimed Australian Soprano, Maggie Noonan. She has independently released a CD of Franz Joseph Haydn Piano Sonatas which has been broadcast on ABC Classic FM.
Full performer profile…

Program

Semifinal



Schubert

Suleika (zweiter Gesang)



Duparc

L’invitation au voyage



Rachmaninoff

How fair this spot



O’Boyle

The cat and the moon

Final



Mozart

Das Veilchen



Schubert

Gretchen am Spinnrade



Strauss

Das Rosenband

Ständchen



Debussy

La mort des amants



Fauré

Automne



Hahn

Si mes vers avaient des ailes



Ravel

Kaddisch (Kaddish)



Rachmaninoff

Harvest of Sorrows

Guy Booth (baritone)

Guy Booth has a Bachelor of Music from the Queensland Conservatorium, where he won the Jeffrey Black Scholarship (2004) and the Donald Penman prize (2005), and performed in many productions, including the critically acclaimed Semele. Early performances included Opera under the Stars, and Opera Queensland productions of Verdi’s Requiem and Tosca, and Bizet’s Carmen. In 2002, he won the NFA Dame Joan Sutherland Aria competition.
Full performer profile…

David McSkimming (pianist)

David McSkimming is one of Australia’s finest accompanists. He has given recitals with many of the country’s most distinguished musicians, including Yvonne Kenny, Rosamund Illing, Marilyn Richardson, Joan Carden and Elizabeth Campbell, and violinist Jane Peters.

In October 1998, David McSkimming was the Associate Artist in recitals with the renowned Korean soprano, Sumi Jo, and American tenor, Gary Lakes.

Since graduating with a Masters Degree in Piano Performance, he has appeared often with the Melbourne and Adelaide Symphony Orchestras, as solo and orchestral pianist, and has played French horn with the Adelaide Symphony. David was a member of the State Opera of South Australia from 1976 to 1989, after which he worked with the Victoria State Opera as Principal Repetiteur until joining Opera Australia in 1997. He has also worked with Opera Factory Zurich. His repertoire extends to more than 65 operas. David is Associate Artist at the Australian National Academy of Music and Head of Music Victorian Opera.

David McSkimming’s recording with Rosamund Illing, Songs of Duparc and Poulenc, was voted ‘Australian Classical Vocal CD of the Year’ in 1997.
Full performer profile…

Program

Semifinal



Schubert

Ständchen from Schwanengesang

Der Lindenbaum (D. 911,

No. 5) from Winterreise,

Op. 89, No. 5



Caccini

Amarilli, mia bella



Legrenzi

Che fiero costume



Finzi

Come away, come away, death from Let Us Garlands Bring

Final



Mahler

Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen (Songs of a Wayfarer)

Wenn mein Schatz Hochzeit macht

Gieng heut’ Morgen übers Feld

Ich hab’ ein glühend Messer

Die zwei blauen Augen



Ravel

Don Quichotte

Chanson romanesque

Chanson à boire

Chanson épique

Lauren Easton (mezzo-soprano)

Lauren’s early performances were with the Australian Opera Children’s Chorus, Gondwana Voices, the Sydney Children’s Choir, Sydney School Singers and music festivals. In the USA, she performed as soloist, chamber ensemble member and chorister in venues including the National Basilica, Lincoln Centre, Disneyland, the Pentagon, the Australian Embassy and Carnegie Hall. In 2001, she won the UNSW Sony Foundation Music Scholarship.
Full performer profile…

Andrea Katz (pianist)

A pianist, accompanist and vocal coach of extraordinary versatility, Argentine-born Andrea Katz is equally at home with chamber music, German Lieder and grand opera. She studied piano with Francisco Amicarelli and Jorge Fontenla in Argentina, Vlado Perlemuter in Paris and Alexander Tamir in Jerusalem. She also specialised in the interpretation of German Lieder with Graham Johnson in London.

Since becoming an Australian resident in 1990, Andrea has worked with all major musical organisations in the country, including Opera Australia, the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Sydney and Brisbane Festivals, the Sydney Music Conservatorium and the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. She also appears regularly with the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra and the Aldeburgh Festival (UK).

A prolific recital pianist, she performs regularly with prominent Australian and international singers and ensembles, including an annual season at the Art Gallery of New South Wales (Sydney). She resides in Melbourne, where she teaches at the Faculty of Music, University of Melbourne. In 2006, she released her first CD, Lest We Forget, with Melbourne soprano, Merlyn Quaife, for the Tall Poppies label.
Full performer profile…

Program

Semifinal



Elgar

Sabbath morning at sea,

from Sea Pictures Op.37



Guettel

Migratory V,

from Myths and Hymns



Mahler

Um Mitternacht,

from Fünf Rückertlieder, No. 5

Final



Donaudy

O del mio amato ben, from

36 Arie di Stile Antico, No. 18



Brahms

Von ewiger Liebe, Op. 43

(Vier Gesänge) No. 1



Wolf

Das Verlassene Mägdlein, Mörike-Lieder No.7



Sibelius

Flickan kom ifrån sin älsklings mote, Op.37 No.5



McCombe

The loneliness of a lover’s arms



Finn

Infinite joy from Elegies – a Song Cycle


Maria Okunev (soprano)

A graduate of Sydney Conservatorium (2001), Maria then completed a Master of Creative Arts degree (2006). In 2004, she was a Vienna International Opera contest semi-finalist and, in 2005, represented Australia in Japan at the Shizuoka International Opera competition. She was a finalist in the 2006 National Aria competition, Canberra, and in the 2007 National Covent Garden Opera Award and Audi German Operatic Award. A Goethe-Institut artist scholarship took her to Berlin in 2007 and she is a finalist in the 2008 Opera Foundation Italian and German awards.

Maria is a young artist with the Pacific Opera company, and sings with the Opera Australia chorus. Her operatic roles include Rosina in Rossini’s Il Barbiere di Siviglia, Donna Elvira in Mozart’s Don Giovanni, Self in Katrina Pring’s The Impossible Body, Guadalina in Offenbach’s La Perichole, Musetta in Puccini’s La Boheme, and Madam Silberklang in Mozart’s Der Schauspieldirektor. Oratorio performances include A Child is Born, George Palmer; Midnight Mass, Matthew Orlovich; and Gloria, Vivaldi.

In 2008, Maria will be performing in live broadcasts for 2 MBS FM, recordings and recitals. She is Director of Music, Australian Youth Choir, and a voice lecturer at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music Open Academy.
Full performer profile…

Jem Harding (pianist)

Jem won the National Eisteddfod in 2005 and was a finalist in the international piano competition, the Concurs D'Andorra in Spain, 2006.

In 2008 he was the winner of the accompanist prize at the Mietta Song Award and accompanied the winning vocalist. In 2009 he was the recipient of the NSW Music Teachers Association Elizabeth Todd Lieder memorial prize in memory of Geoffrey Parsons and also won the Lieder Award at the McDonald's Performing Arts Challenge. He is currently employed at St. Andrew's Cathedral School, Sydney, as a full time accompanist.
Full performer profile…

Program

Semifinal



Schubert

Du bist die Ruh



Duparc

L’Invitation au voyage



Shostakovich

Spring awakening



Martin

A Raundel

Final



Schubert

Ständchen

from Schwanengesang



Strauss

Freundliche Vision Op.48/1

Ständchen Op.17/2



Stravinsky

Two poems



Rachmaninoff

My meadow Op. 4/5

Spring waters Op.14/1



Betty Beath

From the cycle Towards the Psalms

No-one is born just once…

The lament of Ovid

Mones and I…

Towards the psalms

Robert Stewart (tenor)

Robert Stewart studied at the University of Toronto (MusBacPerf, AdvPerf) and the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama (MMus) in Glasgow. Now in Melbourne, Robert has been a finalist in the Mietta Song Recital Award and recently appeared in New Zealand Opera’s production of Carmen. He also performs regularly at St John’s Southgate in their Bach cantata series, including performances with Bach’s successor, Thomaskantor Christoph Biller.

Robert was a Vocal Fellow at the Tanglewood Music Center in the summer of 1999 and participated in Master Classes with Pierre Valet, Phyllis Curtin and Ernst Haefliger. While at Tanglewood, he performed Bach’s Selig ist der Mann with American Bach scholar, Craig Smith, and members of the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra.

Other engagements have included concerts with the Toronto Symphony, the Amadeus Choir, the Aldeburgh Connection, the Bell’arte Singers, the Ottawa Valley Festival, and on CBC Radio Two with the Aradia Ensemble. He has also made several recordings with both the Amadeus Choir and the Aradia Ensemble for Naxos Records.

In 1995, Robert performed the role of Ham in Britten’s opera Noye’s Fludde as part of the Canadian cultural contribution for the UN’s 50th anniversary celebrations in San Francisco.
Full performer profile…

Claire Preston (pianist)

Claire Preston is currently a Lecturer in Music at the Victorian College of the Arts (VCA), and Head of Choral Studies at the VCA Secondary School. She has worked in State and private schools in Australia and Canada, and is a faculty accompanist at the Melba Conservatorium.

Specialising in developing young singers, she has worked extensively in Australia and North America. Claire has been Assistant Conductor with the internationally renowned Toronto Children’s Chorus and Assistant Conductor/Chief Accompanist for the Canadian Children’s Opera Chorus, and served as accompanist for the Elmer Iseler Singers, Canada’s foremost professional choir. While accompanist at the University of Toronto, she worked with Dr Doreen Rao, Sir David Willcocks and Helmuth Rilling.

Performance highlights include appearances at the World Symposium on Choral Music in Minneapolis, Joy of Singing International Choral Festival, and recording the world première of Harry Somers’ children’s opera A Mid-winter Night’s Dream for CBC Records (recently nominated for a Juno Award). Claire has been a finalist in the Mietta Song Recital Award.
Full performer profile…

Program

Semifinal



Schubert

Am Feierabend (Die schöne Müllerin)



Tregaskis

A fine thing (Songs of the Imagination)



Fauré

Mandoline Op.58, No.1



Ives

The Circus Band



Duparc

Phidylé

Final



Strauss

Allerseelen Op.10, No.8



Vaughan Williams

Silent noon (The House of Life)



Paolo Tosti

Ideale



Wolf

Abschied (Mörike Lieder)



Mozart

Dans un bois K.308



Poulenc

Deux poèmes de Louis Aragon

C

Fêtes galantes



Quilter

Love’s philosophy Op.3, No.1



Britten

As it is plenty (On this Island)

Selena Pettifer (mezzo-soprano)

She is currently studying Voice with Gary May. Selena has appeared in a number of roles in Melbourne Opera productions including Lola in Cavalleria Rusticana, Flora in La Traviata, Mercedes in Carmen and Mistress of the Novices in Suor Angelica.

She also performed the role of Suzuki with MPTC and the role of Dama di Lady Macbeth with the Heidelberg Choral Society. She has performed as a soloist with More than Opera on a number of occasions, and with Opera quartet, Opera Vivente. She frequently appears as a recitalist in concert and in oratorio. She has performed as a member of the Melbourne Choral Ensemble and Symphonic Chorus, touring Brazil with the Ensemble in 2002.

Selena has received over forty awards for opera and art song in various singing competitions. She has also been a finalist in the 2008 Mietta Song Competition, 3MBS Young Performer of the Year, RMP Aria, John Tallis Singing award, Boroondara Vocal Championship, Liederfest, South Eastern Arts Festival, and a semi-finalist in the Herald Sun Aria.
Full performer profile…

Jodie Lockyer (pianist)

Jodie Lockyer is a graduate of The Victorian College of the Arts where she studied piano with Michael Kieran Harvey. In 1991, she was the winner of the Bill Burrell Memorial Trust scholarship which enabled her to study accompaniment with Margaret Schoefield.

In 1996, Jodie travelled to England where she was a student of the Royal Northern College of Music, majoring in accompaniment with John Wilson and Carole Pressland.

In 1997 she was the winner of the Margaret Tudor Evans Prize for piano accompaniment and was a finalist in The Royal Overseas League competition.

Jodie has been an accompanist for the Royal Melbourne Philharmonic Society, The Melbourne University Choral Society and has recently taught at Loreto Mandeville Hall and Westbourne Grammar. She is currently an accompanist for The Victorian College of the Arts, Melbourne and Monash universities and is a regular performer at the RACV club.

Jodie has also worked extensively for Opera Australia in the role of pianist for the Victorian Schools Company Education program and in 2006 toured with Oz Opera through NSW and SA as orchestral pianist for Carmen.

Jodie has appeared in masterclasses with Victor Morris Malcolm Martineau, Geoffrey Parsons, Anne Howells and Ronald Farren Price. She has also recorded CDs with the RNCM Wind Orchestra available on the Chandos label.


Full performer profile…

Program

Semifinal



Wolf

Verborgenheit

In dem Schatten meiner Locken



Sutherland

The old prison

The winter kestrel



Rachmaninoff

In the silence of the mysterious night

Spring waters

Final



Mahler

Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen (Songs of a Wayfarer)

Wenn mein Schatz Hochzeit macht

Gieng heut’ Morgen über’s Feld

Ich hab’ ein glühend Messer

Die zwei blauen Augen



Elgar

Excerpts from Sea Pictures

Sea slumber song

Where corals lie

The swimmer