School of Music mezzo wins aria contest

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Bronwyn Douglass
IN a week not notable for good news on the Canberra music front, “CityNews” has learnt of a big win for a voice student at the ANU.

Last weekend final year student, mezzo-soprano Bronwyn Douglass, won the Patricia Fagan Operatic Aria Championship at the Cowra Eisteddfod.

One of Australia’s most important prizes and normally the stepping-stone to overseas studies for aspiring opera singers, as it was for Canberra soprano Lorina Gore, the award carries a cash prize of $7000, which Douglass says she will save up for that purpose.

In the competition, Douglass sang “Mon cœur s’ouvre à ta voix” from “Samson and Delilah” by Camille Saint-Saëns in the heats and “O Mio Fernando” from “La Favorita” by Donizetti for the finals. Describing the event as “a really lovely eisteddfod”, Douglass said the highlight was getting to hear and talk to the other six girls in the finals.

Another finalist, Kate Rafferty is also from Canberra and works with musical director and voice teacher Stephen Delaney in Vienna.

Inevitably there’s a sad twist to this story. Douglass will shortly graduate from the ANU, but is switching to the Queensland Conservatorium at Griffith University because of changes at the School of Music that make it impossible for her to pick up the honours course in mid-year.

Praising her voice teachers Alan Hicks and Christina Wilson, she says: “I would not be the artist that I am today without their continuous guidance and dedication to teaching…they love what they do and it makes the ANU such a wonderful place to learn.”

Douglass was one of the many students performing in last night’s “Support Our School” concert at Llewellyn Hall and has no qualms about speaking out.

“The direction that the ANU School of Music is being taken in scares me. It is so unfortunate that the future music students at ANU will not be able to experience this luscious learning environment. The music school is just a building. The heart of the music school is the teachers, and under this new scheme they may no longer be at the ANU,” she said.

Christina Wilson and Bronwyn Douglass at Llewellyn Hall

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Helen Musa
“CityNews” arts editor

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