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Phillip Rhodes joins celebrated list of Lexus Song Quest winners

Arne Herrmann -- 02/05/2007

Phillip Rhodes joined the elite ranks of New Zealand opera singers this evening when he won the 2007 Lexus Song Quest at the competition's finals concert in the Auckland Town Hall.

Phillip Rhodes
Phillip Rhodes
Photo Source New Zealand International Arts Festival
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The Lexus Song Quest (formerly known as the Mobil Song Quest) was established in 1956 and is a premiere biennial event in the arts calendar, focussed on artistic development for New Zealand's most talented young classical singers. Previous winners include Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, Dame Malvina Major and Jonathan Lemalu.

In a tightly-fought contest in front of competition judge Elizabeth Connell, baritone Phillip Rhodes triumphed with performances of Finzi's Come away death in the Lieder and Art Song section, and Leoncavallo's Si può? Signore, Signori (I Pagliacci) and Verdi's Credo (Otello) in the Orchestral Section.

The winner said he was ecstatic about his success.
"I'm absolutely elated. It's an honour to now be part of this list of illustrious singers. I feel that I have now got an ambassador role which I take with great honour," said Rhodes.

Competition judge Elizabeth Connell, one of the world's leading dramatic sopranos on today's stage, said she was impressed by Rhodes.
"I think Phillip Rhodes has what it takes to have an international career. His ability already to engage to audience with his stage presence is extremely impressive," said Connell.

Twenty-eight year old Phillip Rhodes hails from Havelock North and currently resides in Auckland. He has a Diploma in Performing Arts in Voice from the Eastern Institute of Technology. In 2004-2005 Rhodes was a member of the PriceWaterhouseCoopers Dame Malvina Major Emerging Artist programme and won the 2005 Lockwood Aria. Over the past few years he has appeared in a wide range of operatic performances. Rhodes was one of a 12-man chorus in Tan Dun's opera Tea, performed the role of Brother in the Auckland Opera Studio's production of Kurt Weill's Seven Deadly Sins and was Monastatos in The Magic Flute for the NBR New Zealand Opera. Later this year Rhodes will perform the role of Ping in the NBR New Zealand Opera production of Turandot. As winner, Rhodes receives a cash prize of $10,000 and a Study Scholarship of $15,000 plus a return economy international airfare. Lesser cash prizes and scholarships were awarded to the runners-up and the other three finalists were each awarded $3,500.

Second and third placegetters were, respectively, Wade Kernot and Emma Fraser. The other finalists were Aivale Cole, Claire Barton and Frances Moore.

A further chance for audiences around the country to hear these three place-getters first hand is in the coming week when they tour to Christchurch (30 April), Dunedin (2 May) and Wellington (4 May) to perform a recital concert with renowned pianist Terence Dennis. Elizabeth Connell will speak briefly at every recital. Tickets are available from Ticketek.

Elizabeth Connell also leads a masterclass in these centres which are free to observe by members of the public. For further information visit

The Lexus Song Quest is an initiative of the New Zealand International Arts Festival.

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