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Scott Bezett performing image

Scott Bezett perfoming with Rhiannon Cooper, image Tracey Morris.

Scott Bezett will be the muscial act at his own graduation ceremony on 11 May.

His rich tenor voice will be familiar to many because he has also led the University graduation song Gaudeamus igitur, iuvenes dum sumus (Let us rejoice, while we are young) for the last few years.

With the Latin song being one of the more obscure sing-a-longs, graduation gatherings have been lucky to have Scott there to “give it a bit of beans”.

Scott hails from a sheep and beef farm at Lake Mahinerangi, about an hour out of Dunedin. He was Head Boy and ‘best all rounder’ at Otago Boy’s High School. Scott arrived at the University of Otago  with firm plans to be a secondary teacher; with this goal in mind he completed a Bachelor of Arts and Science, majoring in Classics and Maths with a Music minor.

“I had a sense that I needed to be seen to do a clear thing. It wasn’t until I started doing things I really wanted to do that doors opened, that I would not have even been aware were there.”

It was being open to the “gentle voices in my ear” that led Scott on to postgraduate studies in Classics. In 2023, he completed a Master of Arts Thesis on how opera composers have appropriated Greek tragedy.

“I had to let go of the expectation that I was going to be on a linear path. That I am actually allowed to squiggle around all over the page to get to whatever it may be that I end up doing.”

Through daring to “squiggle” Scott has discovered a love of opera and singing in general.

Alongside his Master of Arts, he has also completed a Master of Music in Performance, this involved two hour-long public recitals and a dissertation on applying Stanislavskian theatre techniques to song literature. He graduates in both these Masters’ this May.

Scott Bezett image

From a love of musical theatre in school to Masters of Music in Performance and of Arts at Otago, Scott has always had a passion for singing. Image background digitally extended.

“I always liked musical theatre in school, and opera is like musical theatre on steroids. It’s the most potent way of telling a story.

“We all have that moment where we are listening to a piece of music and we get goosebumps, and we don’t know why -  it is a combination of something about the music, the text, all these things combine and we get this emotional response. I find that opera is the greatest vehicle for this because it combines all of that into one art form.

“Now being such a musical person that connects with me, and I find it is a very powerful way to connect with other people as well. I find that’s where I can be my most vulnerable. It is kind of like standing in front of people and going ‘Here’s a bit of me, do what you like with that, but I am going to give you a little bit of my soul’.”

Scott is currently working as an administrator in Te Tumu School of Māori, Pacific and Indigenous Studies. He’s also a tutor in first-year Classics.

“I enjoy it because it is their first dip into university learning. There is no exact or correct answer; we give you the tools to come up with your own ideas, and encourage creativity and academic rigour alongside that. It just opens their mind up to what university can be. It is special for me to be one of those people who opened this up for them. People don’t have to be in a tunnel, you can be really broad, and try something else.”

While Scott sees a PhD in his future, it is singing that has his immediate attention.  His partner Rhiannon Cooper graduated  with a Bachelor of Music (Honours) from Otago in 2020. Rhiannon is also a singer and Scott plans to join her in Hamilton, home to a large, privately funded professional music programme at the Waikato Conservatorium of Music.

Overseas also beckons, especially Germany and Austria.

“Singing internationally is a very fickle thing. You have to do so much hard work, I practise every single day. You have to do everything you can so that if the moment comes you are ready for it.”

Scott’s grateful that Rhiannon understands and supports what he is doing. His parents have always been supportive, even if his trajectory has seemed unconventional: “They are both hard working people and I have learned that from them, and they know whatever I set my mind to I will make something of it.”

“It’s been a ride,” says Scott who feels he has been surrounded by a dream team throughout his studies at Otago.

He feels blessed to have had the supervisors he has had in Dr Tessa Romano (Voice), Associate Professor Gwynaeth McIntyre (Classics), Associate Professor Hilary Halba (Theatre Studies), and Professor Terence Dennis (Music), who will also be accompanying Scott in his performance at the 11 May graduation.

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