On Saturday night, North Shore singers scooped every prize offered in the final rounds of the Sydney Eisteddfod Joan Sutherland Memorial Vocal Scholarships.
Presented in the Smith Auditorium at Shore School, North Sydney, the two-section program for developing classical singers offered a $5,000 scholarship for those aged 21-25 years along with a $1,000 scholarship for 17-20 year-olds.
Twenty-year-old St Ives soprano Rhian Saunders won the scholarship for younger singers. Rhian, who studies with Alex Mansourian, has been competing in the Sydney Eisteddfod for some years now, and according to adjudicators Judith Malone and Camille Mercep, already presents as a delightful young artist with a bright future ahead.
In the second competition, six superb singers in the 21-25 year age group pitted their skills for a prize that has enhanced the career path of many successful performers, Dominca Matthews and Daniel Sumegi among them. As operatic voices take years to develop, Sydney Eisteddfod established this scholarship in 1979 to assist outstanding young singers in bringing their voices to maturity. With this legend in mind, adjudicators Sian Pendry and Annabella Redman awarded first prize to 23-year-old Lauren Zolezzi of Gordon, while Anna Dowsley, who recently won Lady Fairfax 2012 New York Scholarship, and Lauren Fagen, who finished runner-up in the Sydney Eisteddfod McDonaldês Aria, placed second and third.
Lauren Zolezzi and Lauren Fagan, who have more than the same Christian name and a North Shore address in common, will soon begin a new adventure together. The two met as students at Mount St Bernard's Primary School, Pymble, and have been rivalling and encouraging each other to greater heights ever since.
In September, the Laurens will take their friendship and vocal talent one step further when they enrol in the Artist Diploma of Opera course at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London. Both are excited at the prospect of completing their studies on a high note and hope the qualifications they gain at this prestigious academy will lead them into operatic careers.