Whanau | voices of Aotearoa. Far from home concert for broadcast. Filming November 4, 2020 royal Albert hall, London, UK.

Press release: 1 November 2020

Last night Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a second national lockdown for

England, starting this Thursday 5 November. A necessary measure to tackle the virus and

save lives, but also a further devastating blow for the arts in this country, and

internationally. The day before the lockdown begins, we will be filming a concert at the

Royal Albert Hall for the out of work and struggling New Zealand opera singers, who have

been unable to go home during this pandemic, and many of whom have fallen through the

cracks of government help from both the UK and NZ governments. It is truly a dire

situation for so many artists around the world, however we are taking the initiative to help

these NZ musicians in particular at this time. Due to the first lockdown, this concert is the

first professional engagement for many of these performers since March, and now for us

all, it might be our only professional engagement for the rest of the year.

In order to raise our spirits, and some much needed funds for each one of these artists, we

will be recording an hour long recital of NZ/Māori/Pasifika songs to be broadcast and

shared internationally from 22 November 2020. It will be released on YouTube, and Radio

NZ Concert, and available for online streaming for at least a month after the release date.

What started as just a simple idea of performing again has grown into something that is

bringing dozens of performers together from NZ and London to share and celebrate our

country, culture, and what unites us.

We have been silenced for months through no fault of our own and we are incredibly proud

and excited to share the smallest of insights into what it feels to be us at the moment, what

our Whānau means to us, and how we long for home, for better times and to be together

once again.

Artists include: Organiser and baritone Julien Van Mellaerts (Kathleen Ferrier Award

winner and BBC Cardiff Singer of the World 2019), organiser and soprano Madeleine

Pierard (former Royal Opera House Jette Parker Young Artist and Lexus Song Quest

Winner), Filipe Manu (current ROH Jette Parker Young Artist), Madison Nonoa (Jerwood

Young Artist Glyndebourne 2020), Benson Wilson (Kathleen Ferrier Award winner and

Harewood ENO Young Artist), Phillip Rhodes (Lexus Song Quest winner), Isabella Moore

(Lexus Song Quest winner), Kieran Rayner, Marlena Devoe, Sophie Sparrow, Katherine

McIndoe, Christie Cook, Pasquale Orchard, Claire Egan, Kamilla Dunstan, Rhonda

Browne, Carleen Ebbs, Clinton Fung, pianist Bradley Wood and award- winning NZ

conductor Tianyi Lu.

We will be joined by Ngāti Rānana London Māori Club for a pōwhiri (welcome) and karakia

(prayer) to open the concert, plus speeches by Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, New Zealand High

Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Bede Corry, and singers, Julien Van Mellaerts and

Phillip Rhodes.

Huge thanks to the Kiri Te Kanawa Foundation, Royal Albert Hall, NZ High Commission,

FANZA, NZ Opera Foundation, Dame Malvina Major Foundation, Hunn Trust, NZ Opera,

Auckland Opera Studio, SOUNZ, Radio NZ Concert (our proud broadcasting partner for

this concert) without whom we couldn’t be performing, and the ongoing support of our

colleagues and friends back in NZ.

In the meantime, here is a little clip of a few of us singing Pokarekare Ana from the old

Roman wall in London: https://fb.watch/1lwMED0kMM/ . In singing this song, we

acknowledge the Kaitito Waiata (composer) Paraire Tomoana and the Ngāti Kahungunu

iwi (tribe) for this taonga (gift) which has now become a beloved unofficial anthem of all

New Zealanders home and abroad. This Waiata was popularised by Māori soldiers who

volunteered and fought in the First World War in Europe. If there were ever an occasion

where music emboldened people and triumphed over abject circumstance, the birth of this

song would serve as an ultimate example. We are honoured to contribute in our small way

to its continuance and celebration, in order that it’s legacy remain one of hope and unity.

We continue to fundraise for these artists, and encourage any donations to be made to our

Go Fund Me page: https://gf.me/u/y5rfm6

Please join us for the release of this concert, set for broadcast on 22 November 2020, to

enjoy some of NZ’s finest opera singers and musicians performing a stunning concert of

NZ/ Māori/Pasifika songs and ensembles. Please consider donating to help each one of

these world class singers/musicians through this incredibly tough time, and we hope you

enjoy this concert: our ode to Aotearoa/New Zealand.

Ngā mihi,

Kiwi opera singers in London


For further questions, interviews and information please contact:

Julien Van Mellaerts, [email protected], +447939665141

Madeleine Pierard, [email protected], +447858392275


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