Baritone to study in Wales

Kawiti Waetford outside Marama Hall after rehearsal yesterday.  Photo by Craig Baxter.
Kawiti Waetford outside Marama Hall after rehearsal yesterday. Photo by Craig Baxter.
A young Dunedin singer is heading for the top of the music world. Kawiti Waetford starts a two-year master's degree in advanced vocal studies at the Wales International Academy of Voice in Cardiff next month.

''I'm excited-slash-nervous,'' the 22-year-old baritone said yesterday.

''I'm a bit sad to be leaving Dunedin, because I've been studying here more than four years, now. But, I've never been there [Wales] before, so I'm definitely excited.

''I'll be working with the likes of Dame Kiri [Te Kanawa], who is the patron of the school, and Dennis O'Neill, who is one of the best bel canto teachers in the world.''

He is holding a farewell benefit concert ''for my Dunedin family'' this week to help offset the $60,000 annual fees. Waetford grew up in Whangarei and has spent the past four years completing a bachelor of music degree, majoring in performance voice, at the University of Otago.

His big break came last year, in winning the inaugural Lexus Song Quest Masterclass Scholarship, judged by the director of Wales International Academy of Voice in Cardiff, tenor Dennis O'Neill.

Criteria for the $15,000 scholarship were based on the technique, musicality, presentation and overall international potential of the singer.

He has since performed at a string of engagements, most recently with Dame Kiri at Sir James Wallace's Auckland home on Friday.

Waetford had every chance of making it to the top, Kiri Te Kanawa Foundation trustee Terence Dennis said yesterday.

''He has a beautiful, natural voice and outstanding stage presence. This is like the finishing school for people going into a professional career on the big world stage.''

Waetford leaves Dunedin on August 30 and starts at the academy on September 30.

The benefit concert is on from 6.30pm to 8.30pm on Wednesday in the Glenroy Auditorium and features Waetford, Terence Dennis, Joel Amosa, Grace Park, Maia Vegar, Kurt Murphy, He Waka Kotuia and the University of Otago Capping Sextet.

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