Opera singer wins awards at Australian Singing Competition

14 October 2015

Baritone Benson Wilson, a recent graduate of the School of Music and a student of Dr Te Oti Rakena, has won significant awards at the 2015 IFAC Australian Singing Competition (ASC).

The finals, held in Sydney earlier this month, included workshops with the judges and performances with the Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra.

ASC is the richest singing competition in Australasia offering over AUS$200,000 in prizes. The twenty four year-old New Zealand born Samoan was one of only five finalists in the ASC and the only New Zealander competing for a portfolio of 18 awards.

Benson scooped some of the most significant awards available to the young singers. He won the Guildhall School of Music and Drama Award, which includes fees for one year’s study at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in the postgraduate diploma vocal training course, and AUD $5,000.

Benson was also awarded the International Vocal Arts Institute (IVAI) New York Scholarship to attend the IVAI summer school in New York in July 2016. This includes a cash prize of AUD $2,500.

He went on to win the Symphony Australia Young Vocalist Award, which is an engagement with a professional Australian symphony orchestra, with a cash award of AUD $5,000.

In addition he won the Ronald Richards Prize of AUD $1,000 cash.

From a musical family – his mother is their church pianist and his father a guitarist – Benson began singing in church as a child.

A rising opera star, he has previously won second place in the 2014 Lexus Song Quest. The same year he completed his Bachelor of Music (Honours) majoring in vocal performance at the University of Auckland and was awarded the University of Auckland’s Vice-Chancellor’s Cultural Grant.

Benson has performed as a concert soloist and in the chorus of several companies, most recently in Auckland Opera Studio’s production of Lucia di Lammermoor.

He has been a member of the New Zealand Youth Choir since 2011 and in 2013 toured with the choir to Canada and the United States.

In 2014 he was a member of New Zealand Opera’s Chapman Tripp Opera Chorus and more recently Benson won first place in the 2015 Napier Aria Competition.

In the future Benson plans to head to Guildhall in London to begin his postgraduate training.