Singing the praises of Dame Kiri Te Kanawa

A classroom full of lucky music students experienced the chance of a lifetime recently, when Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, the noted New Zealand/Maori soprano opera singer, stopped by the UH Mānoa campus to lead an intimate masterclass. Imagine—the students and other lucky audience members benefitted from the expertise and artistry of an operatic superstar with 40 years of stage time throughout the world.  Kanawa was in Honolulu for a September concert at the Neal Blaisdell Concert Hall.

Rachel Schutz, a seasoned soprano recitalist and adjunct voice instructor at UH Mānoa, was in awe of the intensity of the session, and how Kanawa was both honest and demanding of the students. “She didn’t let them get away with anything, and if they weren’t able to get exactly what she wanted, then she kept trying and thinking of new ways until they succeeded. Her demonstration was great,” recalled Schutz.

Rose Lane, a second year Master of Music student in Vocal Performance who also teaches three classes at Kapi‘olani Community College, was the first nervous student called up to sing for Kanawa.  But Lane still revels in the excitement of that moment. “She was absolutely amazing!” exclaimed Lane. “She gave the impression that she really cared about me as a singer, which was evident in the way she responded to my questions during and after the masterclass and how she tried to push me to get my artistry to a new level.  It was an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that none of us will forget.”

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