Soprano lands a top London spot

Singing for her supper

TESSA JOHNSTONE
Last updated 05:00 19/07/2014
Bianca Andrew
ROSS GIBLIN/ Fairfax NZ
HIGH NOTES: Soprano Bianca Andrew is excited to have been chosen to study at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London.

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Wellington soprano Bianca Andrew has sung for her supper and is packing her bags after winning a spot at a renowned British music school.

The 24-year-old auditioned for three British music schools at the end of last year, and won places in all three - but picked the Guildhall School of Music and Drama for the opportunity to work with Australian soprano Yvonne Kenny.

"The Guildhall is renowned for producing fantastic students and they are often students who are accepted into the bigger opera training programmes around the UK, so it's a career move just as much as a training move," she said on Thursday night at a fundraiser at Dockside in Wellington.

The two-year masters programme and living in London will cost her between $140,000 and $160,000, and although a scholarship from the school has helped, she has set about fundraising the rest before she leaves in September.

The biggest vote of support so far has come from New Zealand opera legend Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, for whom she sang in order to get a grant from the foundation.

"It was probably the most nerve-racking experience of my entire life. I was nearly sick on the train to Newmarket, it was like, ‘Oh my god, I'm going to sing for Kiri Te Kanawa'.

"But you know what, I turned up, and she was so lovely, absolutely beautiful. She listened to me sing and had great feedback to offer me, which was very useful and practical."

Andrew said raising the money had been humbling because of the unexpected places support had come from.

"I got this beautiful letter in the post from this lady, her eyesight is going so she can't write very clearly, but she sent me a cheque in the post for $50 and said I just wanted to help you."

Andrew said it was perhaps her passion and her age that inspired people to donate so generously. "I think people really genuinely like the art form. It's opera, and people sometimes think it's just for older, more wealthy people.

"And when you see someone who's 24 and who really loves it, I live and breathe the stuff, maybe that lights a fire in them about things they're passionate about too."

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