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Worth $5000, it was awarded to O’Brien by the Christchurch Committee of the Dame Malvina Major Foundation as part of the foundation’s wider programme to help talented young performing artists to achieve their potential.
Said Dame Malvina Major Foundation Christchurch Committee chairwoman Anna Midgley: "William has made the most of the opportunities that he has been given in this past year and is determined to apply himself to the task ahead of him, despite these challenging times.
"As his teacher Matthew Worth noted, William has ‘distinguished himself from his exceptional peers’.”
Last year, O’Brien made the switch from law to pursue a professional singing career, commencing a Master of Music at the prestigious San Francisco Conservatory of Music.
Since March, O’Brien has been back home in Christchurch due to the Covid-19 pandemic, studying and receiving coaching online from San Francisco.
He plans to return in the coming months and has secured a place in the 2021 Berlin Opera Academy summer programme.
"The award comes as a ray of very encouraging light during what is a difficult time globally for young artists," O’Brien says.
"I am excited to reach for the opportunities ahead, both from San Francisco and soon in Berlin, and this award helps me to do just that."
Bedggood is studying music at Canterbury University and plans to use the funding towards his honours year, which will include collaborations with various composers and performers across New Zealand.
He says the award is a huge confidence boost.
"Music is something that I love, and to be acknowledged for what I do is an incredible feeling.”