Our Judges & Conductors

Judge

Cheryl Barker AO

New Zealand Aria – Open Section

Cheryl Barker AO has established a distinguished Operatic Career throughout the UK, Europe, USA and Australasia.

She has performed for the Royal Opera House Covent Garden, English National Opera, Welsh National Opera, Paris Opera, Nederlandse Opera, Deutsche Oper Berlin, Hamburg State Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Grand Théâtre de Genève, National Opera du Rhin, De Vlaamse Opera, La Monnaie, Opera Holland Park, Reis Opera, Scottish Opera, Glyndebourne Festival Opera, Minnesota Opera, Vancouver Opera, Taipei Opera, Opera Queensland, Opera Australia, State Opera of South Australia, Opera New Zealand, Victoria State Opera and Western Australian Opera.

Her many roles have included the title roles in Jenufa, Tosca, Suor Angelica, Madama Butterfly, Manon Lescaut, Rusalka, Arabella, Salome (both for which she won green room and Helpmann awards), Adrianna Lecouvreur, Francesca di Rimmini, Hanna Glawari in Die Lustige Witwe, Katya Kabanova.

Other roles include Countess/Le Nozze di Figaro, Adina/L’elisir d’amore, Mimi in the award winning Baz Luhrmann production of La boheme, Violetta/La Traviata, Donna Elvira/Don Giovanni, Tatyana/Eugene Onegin, Nedda/I Pagliacci, Antonia/The Tales of Hoffmann, Giorgetta/Il Tabarro, Lauretta/Gianni Schicchi, Marschellin/Der Rosenkavalier, Madeleine/Capriccio, Chrysothemis/Elektra, The Governess and Miss Jessel/The Turn of the Screw, Desdemona/Otello, Musetta/La Boheme, Marie/Die Tote Stadt, Salud/La Vida Breve, Jenifer/A Midsummer Marriage, Micaela/Carmen, Emilia Marty/Vec Makropoulos, Marzelline/Fidelio, Oksana/Christmas Eve, Kate/Kiss me Kate. She created the role of Sarah in Jake Heggies Opera The end of the Affair for Houston Grand Opera.

She has appeared in concert at Londons Wigmore Hall, The Barbican Royal Festival Hall, Royal Albert Hall, Konzerthaus Wien, Koningin Elisabethzaal Belgium, at the Brisbane, Melbourne, Spoletto Festivals, The Australian Festival of Chamber Music and with the SSO< QSO< MSO< WASO.

Future engagements include, Opera in the Vineyard/Hunter Valley and Gertrude in Brett Deans Hamlet for the Adelaide Festival.

Recordings include Puccini Passion, Pure Diva (Melba Recordings), Seduction & Persuasion, Don John of Austria, Beethoven 9 (ABC Classics), La Boheme, Madama Butterfly, Marschallin in Der Rosenkavalier OA (CD & DVD) Madama Butterfly, CD of Great Operatic Arias with the LPO, Katya Kabanova, Quo Vadis, Rusalka, Makropoulos Case (Chandos), Madama Butterfly (Belgium and Netherlands Television)

Cheryl was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia in the 2015 Queen’s Birthday Honours and also holds an Honorary doctorate of Music conferred y the Victoria College of the Arts.

Judge

Peter Coleman-Wright AO, Baritone

New Zealand Aria – Open Section

Peter Coleman-Wright is widely considered one of the most versatile singers in the world today, equally home in opera, concert and recital.

His extensive and varied repertoire has taken him to many of the worlds greatest Opera Companies and Concert Halls.

He has sung throughout Europe at La Scala Milan, La Fenice Venice, Netherlands Opera, Munich, Vienna, Geneva, Paris, Bordeaux, Flanders and at the Aix-en Provence and Bregenz Festivals.

In the United Kingdom he has been a frequent guest of the Royal Opera Covent Garden, English National Opera and Glyndebourne Festival. He has worked for the Aldeburgh Festival at the BBC Proms and with all the leading orchestras at London’s South Bank, Albert Hall, The Barbican, Bridgewater Hall, Manchester and the Wigmore Halls.

In North America he has sung at the Metropolitan Opera New York, New York City Opera, Houston, Santa Fe and Vancouver.

He has sung at Teatro Colon Buenos Aries and in San Paulo Brazil.

He has sung extensively for Opera Australia and has worked with all the major symphony orchestras throughout all the principal Concert Halls.

He has sung more that 60 roles including Figaro, Forester, Michele, Scarpia, Marcello, Sharpless, Don Giovanni, Count, Onegin, Dandini, Billy Budd, Macbeth,Gunther, Golaud, Germont,  Chorebe, Wolfram, Beckmesser, Gunther, Donner, Pizzaro, and Sweeny Todd. His numerous awards include Helpman Awards for Todd and The Traveller ( Death in Venice), Green room awards for Billy Budd, Orestes, and Harry Joy ( Dean).

Peter Coleman-Wright has recorded extensively for EMI, Telarc, Hyperion, ABC classics and LSO and SSO live.

Recent engagements include concerts in Madrid, Moscow, Amsterdam, Los Angeles Philharmonic in Nixon in China with John Adams conducting , Rape of Lucretia Aldeburgh  which was nominated for a Grammy award.

A champion of new and contemporary repertoire, he has created numerous roles most notably Harry Joy in Brett Dean’s Bliss and Caligula by Detlev Glanert.

Peter holds an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Melbourne and was awarded the Performer of the Year in the recent Arts awards in Australia for Socrates by Brett Dean. Peter was made an Officer in the order of Australia in 2015.

Judge

Anna Pierard, Soprano

New Zealand Aria Under 21

Raised in HB, music was always the focus for Anna, and she was a member of the NZ Secondary Students Choir and Orchestra, National Youth Choir and Orchestra, as a violist and singer.

She gained her Dip.Perf.Art (Voice) at EIT and following that, travelled to London, to the Guildhall School of Music and Drama to take up a scholarship and study singing. There, whilst studying for her Masters, she met her husband Jose Aparicio, a flautist and conductor.  Both consequently moved to Amsterdam where Anna studied opera at the Royal Conservatoire.

Following her graduation, she performed as a soloist at the Amsterdam Concertgebouw, Palau de la Musica (Valencia), Teatro Castellar (Castellon, Spain), La Monnaie (Royal Opera House, Belgium), Opera du Rhin (Strasbourg), amongst others.  In 2009, she returned to NZ and since, has performed frequently with NZ Opera, the NZ Symphony Orchestra, APO, CPO and the ACS, as well as performing locally with the Napier Civic Choir.

In 2014, together with long-time friend Sarah Walmsley, Anna founded Festival Opera – Opera with a conscience, and Project Prima Volta, the music programme dedicated to draw teenagers from diverse backgrounds together, to help them find common ground through music preparation and performance. 5 years on, and the vision is as strong as ever, and the programme growing in profile.

Basing the programme and opera company in Hawke’s Bay, enables Anna and her team, to offer a world class opportunity to the wealth of young local talent and excite their audiences into supporting their achievements, both on and offstage.

Anna is also a Trustee on the Dame Malvina Major Foundation, which reinforces her commitment to developing young artists ‘from grassroots to excellence’.

Judge

Catherine Pierard, Mezzosoprano

New Zealand Aria Under 21

CATHERINE PIERARD has pursued an international career as an established concert and recording artist. A specialist in both early and contemporary vocal music she has been a  frequent soprano soloist at the Proms, the South Bank, and major British and European Festivals, 

Catherine worked with the Glyndebourne Festival and Touring Opera and English Touring Opera in the roles of Fiordiligi and Donna Elvira. Other roles include Ariadne in Strauss’s Ariadne auf Naxos, Queen Elizabeth in Britten’s Gloriana, Tatiana in Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin, Stravinski’s Oedipus Rex, Berlioz’ Faust and Beatrice et Benedict, Janacek’s Cunning Little Vixen, Prokofiev’s War and Peace, Handel’s Apollo and Daphne, Handel’s Julius Cesare, Mozart’s The Magic Flute, Caccini’s Euridice, Gluck’s Orfeo, Gluck’s Iphigenie en Tauride, Handel’s Alceste, Britten’s Rape of Lucretia and Monteverdi’s Poppea.

Commercial discs to date are the critically acclaimed Herbert Howells’ songs (Chandos) with Julius Drake; Monteverdi arias (Hyperion); Monteverdi’s Poppea with Hickox (Virgin Classics); Thomas Arne’s Alfred (BBC Music); Mozart’s The Magic Flute with Norrington (EMI); Britten’s Rape of Lucretia with Hickox (Chandos); award-winning Purcell’s Dioclesian – The Masque and Dioclesian Acts I-IV with Hickox and the Collegium Musicum 90 (Chandos); and Purcell’s The Fairy Queen with Norrington and the London Classical Players (EMI).

She has also recorded regularly for BBC Radio 3, adjudicated national exams and competitions both in the UK and NZ, and is much in demand as a coach for chamber music and young singers.

Judge

Timua Te Kowhai

Maori Song Classes

Timua Te Kowhai is a New Zealand Maori; her tribal affiliations are: Te Arawa, Tuwharetoa and Ngai Tahu.

Timua is a graduate with her Masters of Music with first class honours in Voice, at Waikato University, Hamilton, New Zealand.

Permanently residing in Rotorua, Timua has won many scholarships to further her musical studies in Voice. She received many scholarships and grants to pursue her musical education in Italy. This led to invitations where she had a two week extensive concert recital in Rome, Sicily and Tuscany, with a special performance for the New Zealand Ambassador, Julie McKenzie and invited guests in Rome. In Sicily Palermo, Timua and her group Canti Maori were the guest of Princess Constanza. All managed by Patricia Hurley Opera Tours.

Further concert recitals followed in Hong Kong, Shanghai, Bangkok, Tokyo and Beijing China.

Timua has performed in all the major cities and Town Halls throughout New Zealand, with the Auckland Philharmonia, Christchurch Symphony Orchestra, Auckland Chamber Music, New Zealand String Orchestra, Devonport Chamber Orchestra.

Timua has performed numerous indoor and outdoor concerts, both nationally and internationally. She is a regular performer in ‘Opera In The Pa – Rotorua’. She had the honour and privilege of singing God Save The Queen, Whakaria Mai and the National Anthem for the National Memorial Service for the Christchurch Earthquake in March 2011. His Royal Highness Prince William, Prime Minister John Keys, Prime Minister Julia Gulliard and many other MP’s were in attendance, with an audience of over 200,000 and broadcast live throughout Australasia.

She has performed a solo waiata Pokarekare Ana to His Royal Highness Prince Andrew on Mokoia Island, Rotorua. As a result of Timua’s performance in Christchurch, she was invited to perform at the CCTV Bao Forum Festival in Beijing China two weeks later, to a live audience of 300 million Asians.

She has performed on many occasions with the late Sir Howard Morrison and on the Good Morning Breakfast Show, to celebrate his 75th Birthday.

Master of Ceremonies

Helen Medlyn MNZM

Master of Ceremonies, New Zealand Aria Finals Night

One of New Zealand’s most versatile and popular singer-actresses, Helen Medlyn is a respected performer of opera, jazz, straight theatre, oratorio, cabaret, lieder and music theatre, appearing as a guest soloist with most arts organisations here in New Zealand, as well as with many of the major opera companies and orchestras in Australia.

In recognition of her career and her continuing body of work, Helen was honoured as a Laureate by the Arts Foundation of New Zealand in 2002 and made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for her services to the performing arts in 2013.

A few highlights from Helen’s unusually diverse “life upon the wicked

stage” include Joy Gresham in Nicholson’s play Shadowlands (Mercury); Concepcion in Ravel’s The Spanish Hour (NZO); Alice, a mono-drama, written especially for Helen by Gillian Whitehead (NZSO, APO); Mrs Rieper/Mrs Parker in Forster’s play Daughters of Heaven (Watershed); Flosshilde and Schwertleite in Pierre Strosser’s production of Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen (SOSA); the Wicked Witch of the West in Arlen’s musical The Wizard of Oz (Peach Theatre Company); Klytemnestra in Strauss’ opera Elektra (APO); Fraulein Schneider in Kander and Ebb’s show, Cabaret (ATC); Handel’s Messiah with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra; and the shows she creates and presents with pianist, Penny Dodd.

Conductor

Hamish McKeich

Conductor, New Zealand Aria Finals Night

New Zealand born conductor Hamish McKeich has forged an impressive international conducting career alongside a passionate loyalty for developing the repertoire of contemporary and experimental music. He has established an acclaimed partnership with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra and served as the Orchestra’s Associate Conductor from 2002-2006 and performs and records continually with them to this day.He has worked with many orchestras and ensembles, including the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, ELISION ensemble, Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Metropole Orkest, Asko Ensemble of Holland, Stroma, Orchestra Filarmonica Italiana, Adelaide Symphony, Armenian Philharmonic, Melbourne Symphony, Lebanese Philharmonic Orchestra, Queensland Symphony, 175 East, Auckland Philharmonia, Christchurch Symphony, Southern Symphonia amongst others.
Initially a bassoonist, he studied conducting with Ilya Musin, Valery Gergiev and Sian Edwards.

He has performed in New Zealand, Australia, China, the Netherlands, Italy, England, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, France, Armenia and Lebanon. Working regularly in Europe, Australia and with New Zealand’s major orchestras, he has given over 100 world premieres of new works and is also chief conductor of the contemporary ensemble Stroma. In 2012 Hamish McKeich was awarded a Douglas Lilburn Trust citation for services to New Zealand music.