University of Otago senior lecturer in voice Judy
Bellingham wants to see more media recognition of classical
music. Photo by Peter McIntosh.
University of Otago senior lecturer and classical
musician Judy Bellingham has spoken out over ''an imbalance in
the promotion of popular and classical music'', especially in
Ms Bellingham, who is a singer and a senior lecturer in voice
at the university's music department, was commenting in a
graduation address to more than 310 Otago graduates, mainly
in arts, music and theology, at the Regent Theatre, Dunedin,
yesterday. She told graduates she was a ''classical musician,
a singer and a teacher''.
The first two such roles hypothetically placed her ''towards
the bottom of `desirable' and `usual' occupations in New
''Because of this I have had to stand tall and stand proud.''
She had watched ''with interest'' the New Zealand's Got
Talent television show. This had been ''misnamed'' and
should be called ''New Zealand's Got Popular Talent'' because
of a lack of classical music in the show.
''If there was a show called `New Zealand's Got Sporting
Talent', would it be a show with no rugby in it?''On a
previous occasion, when the All Blacks had not won the World
Cup, the New Zealand Youth Choir had won ''a major
international choral competition''. But New Zealand
television had not shown this.
After a question had been asked in Parliament about ''why
this great achievement was not trumpeted to the New Zealand
public'' the answer was that the TVNZ journalist based in
Europe had been ''too busy covering the golf''.
Ms Bellingham noted that Alex Wilson and Terence Dennis had
just entertained graduates at the capping ceremony. In
September, Alex Wilson had come third in New Zealand's only
national classical singing competition, the Lexus Song Quest.
This achievement had not been shown on television, the entire
contest warranting just a 30 second snippet on the late news,
showing only the winner.
Such examples showed ''an imbalance in the promotion of
popular and classical music'', especially in the media.
It would be easy for classical musicians to become
discouraged and ''cower under such an unbalanced onslaught''
but, with passion and commitment, there was ''no scarcity of
opportunity to make a living at what you love doing''.
Some people had stereotyped classical musicians as
''old-fashioned, boring, nerdish'' and graduates would also
be familiar with ''caricatures of over-sized'' female
classical performers ''with mouths wide open surrounded by
big red lips''.
Ms Bellingham also took issue with the saying ''the party's
not over until the fat lady sings'' The ''tall poppy
syndrome'' was ''almost synonymous'' with being a classical
musician in this country.
She tended to think of a tall poppy as ''a high achiever in a
relatively unusual occupation''.
''In a world where conformity breeds acceptance, I urge you
not to be afraid to be different, to be a tall poppy.''