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Dunedin singer and composer win DMMF South Island Arts Excellence Awards

From left: Calla Knudson, Ihlara McIndoe and Samuel Jeon

Coloratura soprano Calla Knudson and composer and musicologist Ihlara McIndoe are the winners of this year’s Dame Malvina Major Foundation Arts Excellence Awards for the South Island, each receiving $5,000 towards their future studies.

This is the first year the awards, administered by the Dame Malvina Major Foundation’s Christchurch Committee, have been extended beyond Canterbury to young artists across the South Island. Both recipients call Ōtepoti Dunedin home.

Chair Warwick Shillito says the number and standard of the applicants was both inspiring and a little daunting. “It is clear the arts are flourishing and that accomplishments are very high. It was difficult for the selection panel to make a distinction between so many worthy performers. But this year’s recipients are very worthy. We wish them well and look forward to following their careers.”

Calla Knudson is currently completing her Honours year in Music at the University of Otago and will use the funding to further her education in the study of classical voice through a Master’s qualification and other professional development opportunities in the coming year. She says this award is huge for her.

“It makes pursuing my Master’s degree possible, but more than that it gives me the encouragement I need to pursue singing professionally. It will help enable me to commit fully to my musical studies without as much of a financial barrier, so I can focus purely on developing my craft. It makes me feel very supported and incredibly excited to show what an amazing scholarship like this one will help me to achieve in terms of my career as a singer and musician.”

University of Otago graduate Ihlara McIndoe will use the award towards funding a Master’s in Musicology at the Schulich School of Music at McGill University in Montreal, Canada.

“I hope that my research on statutorily created performing arts organisations may present useful learnings and questions for performing arts in Aotearoa,” she says. “I’m also thrilled to be able to continue with my compositional development at McGill, as well as develop my interest in early music and period instruments, including through singing in a chant choir, and composing for period instrument string quartet.”

The Dame Malvina Major Foundation Christchurch Committee has also awarded the $1,000 Cecily Maccoll High Achiever Award, funded by a legacy from the late Cecily Maccoll, to Christchurch pianist Samuel Jeon, who is in his first year studying at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music.

Samuel says the award has given him more confidence studying abroad for the first time. “I feel part of a community that is looking out for me and wants me to thrive in my studies here. It not only helps with my school fees, but it encourages me to work harder because of the gratitude and responsibility that comes with it.”


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