what is singing school?
Singing School NZ - Te Wananga Toi Waiata's vision is to encourage up-and-coming singers to be the voices of the future and be part of their incredible dream by giving them the skills and confidence to perform to their best.
Singing School NZ the only summer school of its kind in Australasia, offering tutoring in both classical and musical theatre vocal performance, as well as the crossover between the two, a style which is now very much in demand.
The school is offered every two years in Napier, Hawke's Bay (except when a global pandemic strikes!!) .
The school is organised by the NZ Singing School Trust. The Trust Chairman is Helen Walker QSM, who has been active in musical theatre in Hawke’s Bay for many years, and the Trustees are passionate volunteers who bring a wealth and breadth of experience in singing, performing, music, business, policy and law.
Highlights of the school are always the superb teaching from a talented faculty of tutors and accompanists. Our patrons, Dame Kiri Te Kanawa and Dame Malvina Major, have shared their knowledge with classical students in public masterclasses. We’ve been fortunate to have had Composers in Residence David Hamilton and Philip Norman create music for our students, and in 2019 our Artist in Residence was singer and entrepreneur, Geoff Sewell.
Many of our students have gone into successful professional careers in music and theatre, while others use their talents and skills to enhance the New Zealand arts scene through performances, directing shows, singing in local choirs, and teaching. They are truly fulfilling our vision for New Zealand’s ‘Voices of the Future’.
It all started in the 1980s (just look at those gorgeous Lady Diana hairdos and pearls!).
Ten keen Hawke's Bay singers took time out to get expert tutoring from acclaimed Auckland singing teacher Beatrice Webster. This developed into the Song and Opera Workshop which grew into NZ Singing School and then rebranded in 2020 as Singing School NZ.
In 2020 we refreshed the branding of the school, subtly changing the name to Singing School New Zealand (from NZ Singing School) which puts the singing front and centre! We were also anticipating an increase in Australian and other overseas students coming - that was a few months before the global pandemic which resulted in the 2021 school cancellation!
Our new logo represents many things and is instantly recognisable as coming from Aotearoa with its strong heritage of song. So you might see it as music notes, singing together, the proscenium arch or apron of a stage, the over-arching nurturing provided by expert tutors, the waves on our local beaches, the curve of Hawkes Bay itself or even aiming for the stars! The colours represent professionalism, creativity and encouragement. Thanks to our creative designer, Leticia Masseurs of Organic Lines Design, Napier.
During over 40 years of the School, hundreds of talented singers have come to Singing School NZ to follow their passion, and many have gone onto exciting careers.
Some have returned as tutors to further inspire students, or like Simon O'Neill (photo) to excite audiences talking about his career and favourite songs.
Deborah Wai Kapohe, 1990 – well known New Zealand performer and recording artist; co-creator and sponsor of the annual Pacific Songwriting Competition.
Andrea Creighton 1991 – performing in musical theatre and opera internationally.
Simon O’Neill, 1993 (Photo) – a leading NZ tenor with an opera and concert career all over the world, and who we are proud to have as a Patron of Singing School NZ.
Amelia Whiteman 1995 & 1997 - a member of popular crossover group Elysium III.
Katherine Wiles, Soprano 1997 - with Opera Australia after studying in the UK.
Andrew Conley, 1999 – a baritone performing in opera and oratorio in London; performed with Dame Kiri Te Kanawa at Blenheim Palace.
Stephanie Acraman 1999 – a classically trained soprano, who also works in Jazz and Musical Theatre in Australia, NZ and internationally; teacher at the University of Waikato Conservatorium of Music
Robert Tucker, student in 2003 and regular SSNZ tutor - NZ School of Music Artist Teacher; performing in opera in NZ.
James Schaw, 2005 - actor, singer now performing in tv and stage in Australia.
Chris Bruerton, trainee tutor 2007 - a member of the world-famous a cappella ensemble The King’s Singers, based in the UK.
Kawiti Waetford, 2009 - multiple scholarship recipient; performer; holds a national role for Te Aho Tū Roa connecting, facilitating and empowering people within mahi taiao, te reo, and mātauranga Māori.
Jonathon Abernathy, 2009 & 2011 – multiple scholarship and award recipient, winner of the Joan Sutherland and Richard Bonynge Bel Canto Award. Performing in Europe; a recurring artist with the Auckland Opera Study.
Joel Amosa - 2015 – performing opera and oratorio in NZ and internationally; winner of NZ Lexus Song Quest 2018.