News and events

DMMF Awards for Waikato singer and Auckland pianist

Leon Chen and Katie Trigg

Mezzo soprano Katie Trigg and pianist Leon Chen are the latest recipients of Dame Malvina Major Foundation Arts Excellence Awards for the Auckland/Waikato region. Each has been awarded $5,000 towards further artistic training overseas.

Dame Malvina Major Foundation Auckland/Waikato Committee Chair James Harrison says the committee was astounded by the level of talent, effort and excellence shown by a range of young people across a wide range of disciplines.

“The decisions were very difficult to make but both Leon and Katie stood out, not just for what they’ve already achieved but the strong sense of what they want to achieve in both the short and long term.”

A graduate of the University of Waikato and former Dame Malvina Major Foundation Studio Artist with New Zealand Opera, Katie’s overseas study plans were thwarted by the COVID-19 pandemic, but she was recently offered a place at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia where she will begin a Post-Baccalaureate Diploma of Operatic Performance later this month.

“This award is assisting me to take up this once-in-a lifetime opportunity at the Curtis Institute,” says Katie. This is the next big step in my journey and it is wonderful to have the Dame Malvina Major Foundation supporting me as I go. I’m going to be working with some of the world’s finest coaches and teachers in an environment that is rich in the knowledge of this art form, and I am so incredibly excited.”

Auckland born and raised, and a previous winner of the Dame Malvina Major Foundation Alice Cole Piano Scholarship, Leon has just completed a BMus(hons) in piano and conducting at the Royal Academy of Music in London. He will soon start his Master’s in Piano Performance.

“It’s a great pleasure to receive this Arts Excellence Award, and as every artist would agree, an awesome feeling to be recognised and rewarded in our efforts, encouraging us to further our pursuit in the craft,” says Leon. “The funding will go towards providing a decent preparation for my research project – I’m looking forward to producing great results with the Foundation’s support!”


New trustee: Lorraine MacDonald


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