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Otago music alumnus continues winning ways

Friday 22 June 2018 12:59pm


Baritone opera singer and Otago music alumnus Julien Van Mellaerts has continued his winning ways by taking second place at the Concours Musical International de Montreal (CMIM).

Julien, who studied at Otago between 2008 and 2012, lifted his total prize winnings in the past 12 months to nearly $60,000, after winning the $15,000 Maureen Forrester Prize in the art song division at the prestigious event.

The London-based 29 year old was one of 38 young singers from around the world selected to participate in the event this year.

The former University of Otago music and languages student recently graduated from the Royal College of Music International Opera School after receiving financial support from the Kiri Te Kanawa Foundation.

After winning the 2017 Kathleen Ferrier Award Julian told Alumni and Friends much of his success is underpinned by hard work, and his time at Otago.

He credits music lecturers Terence Dennis, Flora Edwards and Isabel Cunningham as main influences during his undergraduate master’s studies. Similarly, his honours supervisor Alan Davison was an “outstanding music lecturer.”

Terence Dennis Profile photo

“The level of teaching at Otago is exceptionally high. It set me up very well for the level of study at the Royal College of Music. They know the level that is expected internationally and ensure you are aiming for that. I also studied French in my BA and Barbara Stone and Constantin Grigorut were fantastic lecturers. As a singer, languages are so important and I am so glad I studied them at Otago.”

Competition Judge Dame Kiri Te Kanawa said she was very proud to see a New Zealander compete so successfully against an international group of outstanding young singers.

"The most annoying thing for me was that I could not vote for Julian as the foundation supports him, so there was a conflict of interest."
His latest win caps a year of outstanding achievement.

He has also recently won the Wigmore Hall-Kohn Foundation International Song Competition and was awarded the Tagore Gold Medal, which was presented by Prince Charles, at his graduation from the Royal College of Music.

He will return to New Zealand later this year to take the role of Schaunard in New Zealand Opera's performance of La Boheme, in Auckland and Wellington.