Christchurch baritone, Jared Holt, last night won the final of the 2000 Mobil Song Quest held at Wellington’s Michael
The 24 year old law and classics graduate staged what was recognised by the 2000 strong audience to be a world class
performance, to emerge victorious in what was an extremely close contest.
Dunedin soprano, Ana James took second place – along with the special Temple Square Concert Series prize – with third
place going to Rotorua mezzo, Kate Spence.
Jared’s prize includes a cash award of $10,000 and a study scholarship of up to $15,000 plus international air travel.
The runners up receive, respectively, cash awards of $8000 and $5000 with study scholarships of up to $10,000 and $5000.
The other three finalists – Christchurch mezzo, Majka Kaiser; Auckland soprano, Anrea Munro and contralto, April-Marie
Neho from Havelock North – each received cash awards of $3500.
For Jared, who said winning the contest has been a long held dream, it was a question of “third time lucky”. He was a
finalist in the 1996 contest and runner up in the previous event in 1998.
He said he had really focused on this year’s competition and had set his sights on making it his night.
“I concentrated on putting a lot of work in on the basics – such as breathing and technique – and decided on a
repertoire that suited my range,” Jared said.
“Naturally I am thrilled with the result and want to thank everybody who has helped me during my career and, of course,
Mobil for continuing to so generously sponsor the event.”
Although the Mobil Song Quest has helped launch the careers of internationally recognised singers such as Dame Kiri Te
Kanawa, Dame Malvina Major and, more recently, Jonathan Lemalu, Jared says he has not yet finally decided whether he
will seek to follow in their footsteps.
“I am at that point in my singing career where I have to make a very careful assessment of my abilities and ambitions,
but winning this event has certainly given me a great deal of encouragement.”
For the final, Jared performed The Lads in Their Hundreds - from Butterworth’s A Shropshire Lad, Avant de Quitter Ces
Lieux - from Gounod’s Faust and the famous Largo al Factotum - from The Barber of Seville by Rossini.
The judge of the final, internationally acclaimed American baritone, Sherrill Milnes, said the standard of singing and
performance in 2000 Mobil Song Quest was outstanding and picking a winner had not been an easy task.
“New Zealanders seem to have an absolute passion for music and for life - a fact that is highlighted by the achievements
of all six finalists in this event,” Mr Milnes said.
“Jared’s performance in particular typified the way performers can use the beauty of sound to speak to our emotions. He
is deserving winner and I wish him every success for the future.”
Last night’s event was the 22nd Mobil Song Quest - making it New Zealand’s longest running continuous sponsorship.
Mobil’s Country Manager, Alan Heng, said that he looked forward to the company continuing to be associated with
excellence in the singing arts well into the future.
“Mobil is, and always has been, extremely proud to be able to help talented young singers further their careers,” Mr
“I offer my warmest congratulations to Jared - and, for that matter, all the contestants in this year’s event - for
continuing to make it an occasion to which we are very happy to lend our name and our support.”
Mobil Song Quest 2 September 2000, Wellington
The 22nd Mobil Song Quest was held in Wellington on 2 September 2000 at the Michael Fowler Centre.
The Mobil Song Quest is reputed to be New Zealand’s longest running continuous sponsorship, spanning almost half a
century from the mid-1950s. It has provided a springboard for the careers of many opera singers. These include Dame Kiri
Te Kanawa, Dame Malvina Major, Teddy Tahu Rhodes and Jonathan Lemalu, as well as both Martin Snell and Andrea Creighton,
who returned to New Zealand to take part in the New Zealand Festival 2000.
This year the Mobil Song Quest featured six of this country’s most promising young opera singers who were selected
from an initial field of over 75 entries. The finalists ranged in age from 21 to 32 years and include 2 sopranos, 2
mezzos, a contralto and a baritone.
The six finalists were selected after listening to recordings of a six-item programme made by each of the 12
semi-finalists who were announced in early June. The judges said then that they were impressed with the extremely high
standard this year and that in selecting the finalists, they were looking for not only excellent musicianship but also
overall strength of personality and mature performance skills.
In the final each singer was accompanied for one item by Terence Dennis and for two further pieces by the New Zealand
Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Michael Lloyd.
The judge was the internationally acclaimed American baritone, Sherrill Milnes. Between 1965 and 1997, Mr Milnes made
651 appearances at the New York Metropolitan Opera and has worked extensively in other major international opera houses.
Sherrill Milnes is one of the most popular and electrifying performers before the public today. A superstar in every
sense, he is sought by every major opera house and orchestra in the world. He has worked with young singers throughout
his career, and has received numerous honours including seven honorary doctorate degrees
Prizes reflect the competition’s commitment to promoting opportunities for young New Zealand singers. The winner of
the 2000 Mobil Song Quest will receive a cash prize of $10,000 and a study scholarship of up to $15,000 plus
international air travel. The runner-up will receive $8,000 and a study scholarship of up to $10,000. The third placed
contestant will receive $5,000 and a study scholarship of $5,000.
The six finalists
Jared Holt (24) baritone
Jared has recently been awarded a scholarship from the Royal College of Music, London, to undertake post-graduate
performance studies later this year. He has graduated from Canterbury University with a L.L.B (Hons)(Law)/B.A.
(Classics). Jared has recently performed his 5th role with Canterbury Opera – Valentine in “Faust” and earlier this year
performed the roles of Baron Duphol in the Auckland arena production of “La Traviata” and Eisenstein in Wanganui Opera’s
“Die Fledermaus”. Jared was the runner-up in the 1998 Mobil Song Quest and was a finalist in the 1996 contest.
Ana James (24) soprano
Ana graduated with a BMus in Performance Voice from Victoria University and will begin studies for a Master of Music in
Opera at the Manhattan School of Music in New York this month. She has won a number of scholarships and study grants and
was placed third in the 1998 Mobil Song Quest. Ana has recently returned from a recital tour of New Zealand Embassies
with Dame Malvina Major. She has appeared as a soloist with the Orpheus Choir of Wellington, the City of Dunedin Choir,
the Wellington Chamber Orchestra and the Jubilate Singers in Christchurch.
Majka Kaiser (22) mezzo
Majka has just completed a BMus Honours in Performance Singing at Victoria University. She has been offered a place at
the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London and will start her studies there for a Diploma in Vocal Studies in
September. Majka performed the role of Cherubino in Victoria University’s 1999 production of “The Marriage of Figaro”
and she was a soloist in the Orpheus Choir’s semi-staged performance of “Elijah”.
Andrea Munro (32) dramatic soprano
Andrea was a member of the 1998-99 Opera New Zealand Emerging Artists Programme. Within that programme she was the Tower
Scholar, she won the Dame Malvina Major Foundation Scholarship and she took part in a masterclass with Luciano
Pavarotti. In 1998 Andrea won the Wendy Chatfield Memorial Aria (North Shore Competitions) and was a semi-finalist in
the McDonald’s Aria in Sydney. Earlier this year, Andrea performed the role of Kate Pinkerton in the NBR New Zealand
Opera’s production of “Madam Butterfly”.
April-Marie Neho (25) contralto
April-Marie is currently completing a BMus/BA at Victoria University, having completed a Diploma in Vocal Studies from
the Eastern Institute of Technology in the Hawkes Bay. In 1999 April-Marie took the role of Marcellina in the Victoria
University production of “The Marriage of Figaro” and she was a soloist in the Napier Choral Society'’ "Messiah". This
year she has been awarded the Moira Todd Scholarship through the New Zealand Opera Society.
Kate Spence (25) mezzo
Kate is currently completing a Graduate Diploma of Opera Studies at the Queensland Conservatorium at Griffin University
in Brisbane. She has a Master of Music (Distinction) from the University of Auckland and an F.T.C.L. in voice from
Trinity College. While studying at Auckland University, Kate was a member of the Opera New Zealand Chorus and she
appeared as a soloist with the Auckland Choral Society on a number of occasions. At the Queensland Conservatorium she
has taken several principal roles in Conservatorium productions.