21 October 2010

For budding Con soprano Rachel Bate, it's one down and one to go.

Last weekend the 25-year-old Year Two student from Wollongong claimed the prestigious Australian Singing Competition (ASC), as one of five finalists vying for prizes totaling more than $180,000 at the Opera House.

This weekend she will be one of five contenders for the eminent Opera Foundation Australia's German Opera Scholarship, worth $43,000.

Bate's back to back high performance trajectory has guaranteed her invaluable exposure and an international career path.

Winning the Mathy Scholarship at the ASC earned her $30,000 in funding for further study in New York, which she aims to pursue once she has completed her advanced diploma in opera at The Con.

"New York has the Metropolitan Opera and also the Juilliard School, so I'll have the chance to work with people who have been working with the greats," said Bate, who started singing lessons when she was 15.

The prize, presented to her by Governor-General Quentin Bryce, also provides studio recordings to air on ABC Classic FM and the Australian Fine Music Network, publicity photographs and an oral interview to be kept in the National Library of Australia.

"It was the best moment of my life seeing my friends and family jump in the air after I was announced the winner. Just performing at the Opera House was a staggering experience," commented Bate, who is trained by Maree Ryan, the Chair of The Con's Vocal and Opera Studies.

Also in the final for the ASC was fellow Con student Eleanor Lyons, who is guided by Con lecturer Barry Ryan.

Joining Bate among the five finalists for the German Opera Scholarship in a recital in the Verbrugghen Hall on Sunday will be two other Con students - soprano Celeste Haworth and mezzo-soprano Erika Simons, plus recent Con graduate Susannah Lawergren, along

with Milica Ilic, of Queensland.

All performers will be accompanied by pianist Sharolyn Kimmorley AM.

The winner will receive a 12 month stint with the renowned Cologne Opera Ensemble as well as $43,000 in funding and German language lessons at the Goethe-Institut.

Con graduates won the Scholarship in 2007 (Abraham Singer) and 2005 (Anita Watson).

Bate's success adds to an impressive sequence of brilliant performances by Con students and graduates in major singing awards this year.

Emma Moore took out the annual McDonald's Operatic Aria, a competition dating back to 1933 and boasting singing greats such as the late Dame Joan Sutherland and June Bronhill among former winners.

Angela Brun-Edwards was runner-up and Andrew Moore a fellow finalist.

Con graduate Simone Easthope - also coached by Maree Ryan - performed with distinction in winning the highly sought after Lady Fairfax 2010 New York Scholarship. The Sydney singer was one of six finalists for the scholarship, including Con graduate Renee Martin, and current Con students Erika Simons and Naomi


Easthope, who will leave for the US next month, aspires to work with Joan Dornemann at the Metropolitan Opera. She also hopes to meet her idol, soprano Renee Fleming.

Contact: Mick Le Moignan

Phone: 02 9351 1385

Email: 0238152d650e0c075c100a382e5f33453c3c14571c053531321e2b3c