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Source: University of Canterbury

04 June 2021

The student was nervous as she performed for Grammy award-winning operatic bass Jonathan Lemalu at the University of Canterbury’s (UC) central city Arts Centre campus Recital Room last night.

  • Opera star Jonathan Lemalu conducted a masterclass with UC voice students last night.

The renowned performer quickly put her at ease, along with fellow attendees at a Masterclass for UC’s School of Music voice students.

Voices soared and young singers were inspired as, with much warmth and humour, Lemalu helped the students to explore nuances of the music they had prepared and the characters they were portraying. 

Currently touring the country, Lemalu will perform in Ōtautahi Christchurch at The Piano tonight and Sunday, 4 & 6 June. He is presenting an evening opera programme of the bass genre’s most famous operatic characters and a daytime programme of works in English, including songs written specifically for Lemalu.

“It’s important to be able to give back … as someone who has miles and experience,” he says.

UC voice performance tutor Zara Ballara was delighted to hear from Lemalu, whom she performed with when they were students in a production of Robinson Crusoe.

She said it was an invaluable opportunity for students to learn from a critically acclaimed artist who has succeeded internationally.

“Although we take our music very seriously it is important to have fun and enjoy what we are doing,” Ballara says.

“We can sometimes get bogged down in the mechanics, trying to make everything correct and aiming for that elusive perfection, which I don’t think exists. What we’re after is connection, which Jonathan does so splendidly.”