Australian Singing Competition - 2017 Finals Concert Programme

2017 Finals Concert Programme


2015 IFAC Chairman - Dr Haruhisa Handa

Dr Haruhisa Handa 

For the past 20 years, our sponsorship of the IFAC Handa Australian Singing Competition has provided the opportunity for talented young classical singers to perform with Australia's top orchestras and highly respected conductors.

Over the many years of our association, I have been privileged to watch hundreds of young artists make their way through the Competition and to see them go on to realise their potential on the world stage.

Although I am unable to be present this year, I am pleased that in my absence Midori Miyazaki, the Director of International Relations, along with former New Zealand Prime Minister and current IFAC Patron the Right Honourable Sir John Key GNZM will represent me at the Finals Concert, and that Catrin Johnsson of the IFAC Handa New Zealand Singing School is this year’s National Adjudicator.

This is a prestigious occasion that will be remembered by the singers, and, I trust, by the audience fortunate to witness their career-launching performances.


MOST Chairman - Roland Gridiger

Roland Gridiger

Welcome to the 2017 IFAC Handa Australian Singing Competition (ASC). I am delighted to introduce to you five outstanding singers who have sung their way through the various stages of the Competition and who have now reached the Finals. And we welcome back Sitiveni Talei, the 2008 recipient of The Marianne Mathy Scholarship.

For Music & Opera Singers Trust Ltd (MOST), this has been another year for innovation – We have seen the inaugural year of the mentoring programme spearheaded by Emma Matthews; MOST will relaunch the ABC Young Performers Awards shortly; MOST is rebranding and restructuring our web presence so you will be able to visit all our initiatives from the MOST website; And our ASC YouTube Channel is rapidly nearing 900,000 views, so please come and watch!

I want to thank the International Foundation for Arts and Culture and especially Dr. Haruhisa Handa who has once again enabled us to engage the Opera Australia Orchestra to accompany the singers on stage.

IFAC and Dr. Handa have been the ASC’s principal sponsor for 20 years now. That milestone of philanthropic dedication is something we can all applaud. I want to thank the 2017 National Adjudicator, Catrin Johnsson, and all our Adjudicators, sponsors, and supporters whose generosity has enabled us to distribute almost over $200,000 in prizes and opportunities this year. I’d like to thank the Deputy Consul-General of the Federal Republic of Germany, Juergen Gerhard Kurzhals, and Icelandic baritone, Olafur Sigurdarson. I also want to thank the Right Honourable Sir John Key, former Prime Minister of New Zealand and Patron of IFAC Handa for joining us tonight.

On behalf of MOST, I wish the finalists the very best for tonight and in their future careers.

In pursuit of 'The Mathy'

The Mathy

The Finals Concert

The IFAC Australian Singing Competition attracts the finest young singers from Australia and New Zealand and this year we received close to 70 entrants. Through the rigours of the Heats that took place around Australia, New Zealand and London, this initial group was whittled down to eleven Semi-Finalists. After a Private Adjudication session, the Semi-Finalists performed in front of an enthusiastic audience at the Semi-Finals Concert, which was held at the Independent Theatre in North Sydney on Sunday 4th June. At the conclusion of the Concert, the five Finalists were announced.

Naturally, the Finals Concert represents the last stage of the Competition. Unlike the Semi-Finals, where the singers are also assessed in a Private Adjudication session, the Finals Concert is the only chance that the Finalists have to perform for the Adjudicators. It is also their first opportunity in the Competition to perform with a full orchestra.

This year we continue our successful collaboration with the Opera Australia Orchestra, formerly known as Australian Opera & Ballet Orchestra, courtesy of Dr Haruhisa Handa and the International Foundation for Arts and Culture. The Finalists may choose to perform for the Adjudicators any two pieces from the operatic canon including Baroque, Classical, Romantic, Modern, Opéra Comique and Operetta. At the conclusion of the Finals concert the National Adjudicator announces the winners of the Marianne Mathy Scholarship and the other Prizes & Opportunities.

Celebrating its 36th year, the ASC has showcased thousands of singers since 1982 who have competed for more than $3 million in prizes.  In 2017 the ASC prize pool is valued at nearly $200,000. After winning the Australian Singing Competition, singers such as Amelia Farrugia, Stuart Skelton and Paul Whelan have all gone on to achieve national and international acclaim.

The ASC is the only singing competition in Australia that awards a statuette with its major prize. Known as 'The Mathy’ and hand-cast in solid bronze, the statuette was crafted as a limited edition by Australian sculptor Drago Marin Cherina. “The Mathy” bronze statuette was first awarded to Western Australian soprano Rachelle Durkin in 2000.

2017 National Adjudicator

2017 IFAC ASC National Adjudicator - Catrin JohnssonCatrin Johnsson

Catrin Johnsson was born in Sweden and trained at the Sköndal Institute (Organist Course) and Royal University College of Music in Stockholm (Solo Vocal Course) where she received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Music. She completed her formal training at the Royal Academy of Music in London (Performance and Opera Course) where she graduated with a Dip.RAM and LRAM. She has furthered her vocal studies with Jacqueline Bremar and David Harper. Awards include the prestigious Christina Nilsson Award from the Royal Academy of Music in Stockholm, Elena Gerhardt Lieder Prize, Flora Nielsen Prize, Michael Head Prize, Katie Thomas Prize, and the Minnie Hauk Prize.

Operatic roles include the title role in The Duchess of Malfi for English National Opera, Medoro in Handel’s Orlando for the Åmot Opera Festival in Norway, Cherubino Le nozze di Figaro, La Ciesca Gianni Schicchi and Dimitri Fedora for Opera Holland Park, Dorabella Così fan tutte, Dido Dido and Aeneas, Carmen, Meg Page Falstaff, Hansel Hansel and Gretel, Adelberto Ottone and Idelberto Lotario (London Handel Festival), Nicklausse Les Contes d'Hoffmann, Prince The Happy Prince, Zerlina Don Giovanni, Second Lady and Third Lady The Magic Flute. Covered roles include Fyodor Boris Godunov and Dorabella Così fan tutte for English National Opera, Hermia A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Stéphano Roméo et Juliette for Opera North.



The IFAC Australian Singing Competition expresses its gratitude to all the Adjudicators for their dedication and professionalism.

National Adjudicator – Catrin Johnsson

Tahu Matheson

Noëmi Nadelmann

Olafur Sigurdarson

Narelle Yeo

Raff Wilson


Tahu Matheson

Narelle Yeo

Raff Wilson


London (UK) Monday 3 April
David Harper, Linnhe Robertson, Yvonne Kenny

Sydney (NSW) Monday 3 April & Tuesday 4 April
Barry Ryan, Taryn Fiebig

Melbourne (VIC) Wednesday 5 April
Suzanne Johnston, Andrea Katz 

Perth (WA) Friday 7 April
Thomas Johnson, Fiona McAndrew

Brisbane (QLD) Sunday 9 April
Jason Barry-Smith, Natalie Peluso


Find Out More


2017 IFAC ASC Finals Conductor - Nicholas Milton

Nicholas Milton

Nicholas Milton is currently General Music Director and Chief Conductor of the State Opera House (Saarländisches Staatstheater) in Saarbrücken, Germany, where he conducts approximately fifty performances each season. Current productions include Tannhäuser, Der fliegende Holländer, Salome, Peter Grimes, Katya Kabanova, La Bohème, Tosca, Madama Butterfly, La Fanciulla del West, Falstaff, Un ballo in maschera, La Traviata, Hänsel und Gretel, Carmen, Don Giovanni, Die Zauberflöte and Die Fledermaus. He has also frequently conducted at the Volksoper in Vienna and at the Komische Oper in Berlin, as well as in Dortmund, Leipzig, Innsbruck, and in Sydney for Opera Australia. In 2018 he will make his debut at the Deutsche Oper Berlin

Concert engagements include appearances with leading orchestras in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, England, Hungary, France, Spain, the Netherlands and Asia, among them, the London Philharmonic Orchestra, Konzerthausorchester Berlin, NDR Sinfonieorchester Hamburg and Radiophilharmonie Hannover, SWR Radio Sinfonieorchester Stuttgart, Deutsche Radio Philharmonie Saarbrücken, Stuttgart Philharmonic, Dortmund Philharmonic, Staatsorchester Wiesbaden, Staatsorchester Darmstadt, Orchester des Nationaltheaters Mannheim, Staatskapelle Halle, Bremen Philharmonic, Philharmonisches Orchester Heidelberg, Deutsche Staatsphilharmonie Rheinland-Pfalz, Philharmonisches Orchester Freiburg, Bruckner Orchester Linz, Tonkünstler-Orchester, Orchestra della Svizzera Italiana, Sinfonia Varsovia, and Orchestre Philharmonique de Nice, Orchestre de Picardie, MAV Orchestra Budapest, Odense Symphony, Nagoya Philharmonic, China National Symphony Orchestra and the Taiwan Philharmonic. In 2013, he served as Assistant Conductor to Mariss Jansons on an extensive European and United States tour with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra.

Appointed as the youngest-ever concertmaster of a major Australian orchestra, Nicholas Milton enjoyed a distinguished career as a violinist and chamber musician before dedicating himself exclusively to conducting.

Milton studied at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, Michigan State University and at the Juilliard School. Milton holds four Master degrees, in Violin, Conducting, Music Theory and Philosophy, and a Doctorate in Music from the City University of New York. Mentored at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki by the legendary Jorma Panula, he won the 1999 Symphony Australia Conductor of the Year Competition and was a prize-winner in the Lovro von Mata?i? International Competition of Young Conductors. In 2001, Dr. Milton was awarded the Australian Centenary Medal for Service to Australian Society and the Advancement of Music. He also received the 2014-15 College of Music Distinguished Alumni Award from Michigan State University. In 2015, he was invited by the Australian Prime Minister to join the Australia-Germany Advisory Group. In 2016, he was named a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for Significant Service to the Arts as Musician, Conductor and Artistic Director.

Nicholas Milton’s discography includes about 50 CD recordings. He was nominated for a 2016 Grammy Award in the category, Best Classical Instrumental Solo, for his recording with Joseph Moog of Piano Concertos by Grieg and Moszkowski.

2017 OAO

Opera Australia Orchestra Opera Australia Orchestra

Opera Australia Orchestra (OAO)

Celebrating 50 years of excellence in 2017, the Opera Australia Orchestra is the busiest of all Australian orchestras. The orchestra performs over 300 times each year with Opera Australia and The Australian Ballet during their respective Sydney seasons, as well as Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour.

Formed in 1967 as the Sydney Elizabethan Trust Orchestra and later known as the Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra, the Opera Australia Orchestra began playing under its new title this year. The Orchestra has earned a reputation for warmth of sound and impressive flexibility in the most challenging of environments. It performs under some of the world's best conductors and the core orchestra is supported by excellent seasonal and freelance musicians.

Standout recent performances with Opera Australia include a concert performance of John Adams’ The Nixon Tapes, performed on the Sydney Opera House Concert Hall stage with the Opera Australia Chorus, the sixth season of the now iconic Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour, in which the orchestra plays under the harbour stage, and the wonderful Cosi fan tutti conducted by Jonathan Darlington. For the Australian Ballet, a recent highlight was the acclaimed new production of John Neumeier’s Nijinsky, conducted by Nicolette Fraillon.

In 2017, the Orchestra will perform a series of operas in concert with Opera Australia while the Joan Sutherland Theatre is closed for renovations. In July, the Orchestra performs alongside the 2012 Australian Singing Competition winner, Nicole Car in Massenet’s Thaïs in the Sydney Town Hall, followed by Wagner’s Parsifal at the Sydney Opera House, featuring Jonas Kaufmann in the title role. Renato Palumbo will conduct two performances of The Verdi Requiem in the Sydney Opera House Concert Hall, featuring the Opera Australia Orchestra and Chorus. At the Capitol Theatre, the Orchestra will play for OA’s 60th Anniversary production of My Fair Lady and The Australian Ballet’sSleeping Beauty and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland..

Jun Yi Ma

Artistic Advisor & Concertmaster

Huy-Nguyen Bui

Associate Concertmaster

Katherine Lukey

Deputy Concertmaster


2017 Opera Australia Orchestra

List of players (PDF)

The Finals Concert will be broadcast live on ABC Classic FM

Audio recording: ABC Classic FM

Photography and Videography by MOST

Videographer: Adrian Ussher

Photographer: Christopher Getts

2017 Compere

2017 IFAC ASC Finals Compere - Margaret Throsby

Margaret Throsby AM

Margaret Throsby's face and voice is familiar Australia-wide - her distinguished career encompasses both radio and television.

Margaret joined the ABC as an announcer in 1967. She has presented a variety of music and current affairs programs, and won a devoted audience for her high rating morning program The Margaret Throsby Show on ABC's Radio 2BL (702 Sydney).

Margaret was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia for Services to Broadcasting in 1989. She has also received the Variety Club of Australia's Radio Award, two Avion Awards for the 'Best in the World' in-flight audio programs (Qantas), the Golden Gavel Award presented by the Law Society of NSW for Excellence in Legal Reporting, the Children's Week Award Media Award and Rostrum Speaker of the Year.

Over the past 20 years, Margaret has interviewed Lord Yehudi Menuhin, Oliver Sacks, Patricia Routledge, Dr Tim Flannery, the Hon Paul Keating, Claire Bloom, John le Carre, Victoria de los Angeles, Spike Milligan, Steve Waugh, Jane Fonda, Cate Blanchett, and Bruce Beresford.

2017 Guest of Honour

2017 IFAC ASC Guest of Honour  - Sir John Key

The Right Honourable
Sir John Key

John Key was Prime Minister of New Zealand from 2008 to 2016, winning three general elections as leader of the centre-right National Party.  He led the country through the aftermath of the global financial crisis and a series of devastating earthquakes in New Zealand's second-biggest city. When he retired from office New Zealand had one of the highest growth rates and best fiscal positions of any advanced economy.

Prior to entering politics in 2002, Mr Key worked in investment banking for 20 years primarily for Bankers Trust in New Zealand and Merrill Lynch in Singapore London and Sydney. Mr Keys most recent positions included heading Merrill Lynchs global foreign exchange business along with responsibility for European derivative trading and E. Commerce.

Mr Key says he is delighted to be a Patron and Ambassador of ISPS and IFAC. "I have long had huge respect for the great work Dr Handa and his organisations are undertaking around the world. In particular the various programs to support blind and disabled golf strikes a real chord with me as someone who is not only an avid golfer but a passionate believer in the power of sport to transform lives of able and disabled people."

2017 Finals Concert Programme

Download 2017 PDF Programme


Damian Arnold 25 tenor NSW

Damian is the proud recipient of the 2017 Eleanor Blakemore Opera Society Scholarship as part of the Melba Opera Trust. A finalist in the Australian Singing Competition, Damian also won the Wollongong Eisteddfod Aria and Cowra Eisteddfod Aria competitions. Read more

La fleur que tu m’avais jete?e Carmen Bizet

Il mio tesoro Don Giovanni Mozart

Daniel Carison 24 baritone VIC

A graduate from The Conservatorium of Music Melbourne, Daniel is the winner of the Royal Melbourne Philharmonic Aria Compeition and one of the inaugural winners of 3MBS’ The Talent. In 2017 Daniel is a third-time recipient of the Paulette Bisley and Ruskin Opera awards with the Melba Opera Trust.Read more

Sois Immobile Guillaume Tell Rossini

Heiterkeit und Fro?hlichkeit Der Wildschu?tz oder Die Stimme der Natur Lortzing

Paull-Anthony Keightley 25 bass baritone WA

Paull-Anthony made his principal debut with West Australian Opera (WAO) in Gianni Schicchi while he was the 2016 Wesfarmers Young Artist. He recently appeared as Sciarrone in company’s production of Tosca while continuing as a member of the Young Artist Programme.Read more

Vi ravviso, o luoghi ameni La sonnambula Bellini

Fear no more the heat o’ the sun Let Us Garlands Bring Finzi

Filipe Manu 27 tenor NZ

A former Dame Malvina Major Emerging Artist with the New Zealand Opera Company, Filipe has achieved notable success in aria competitions nationally, a recent highlight being in the prestigious Lexus Song Quest and NZ Aria, in which he was placed 2nd for both.Read more

Pastorello d’un povero armento Rodelina Handel

Ah mes amis; Pour mon a?me La fille du re?giment Donizetti

Shikara Ringdahl 25 mezzo soprano QLD

Shikara Ringdahl is a recent graduate of the Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University and holds a Bachelor of Music. During her time, there she performed in a range of operatic roles, the most notable being Mrs Herring in Britten’s Albert Herring, directed by Bruce Beresford in 2016.Read more

The Swimmer Sea Pictures Op.37 Elgar

Se Romeo t’uccise un figlio… La tremenda ultrice spada I Capuleti e i Montecchi Bellini

2017 Finals Concert Program

Opera Australia Orchestra

Overture Academic Festival Brahms

Damian Arnold

La fleur que tu m’avais jete?e Carmen Bizet

Daniel Carison

Still Sois Immobile Guillaume Tell Rossini

Paull-Anthony Keightley

Vi ravviso, o luoghi ameni La Sonnambula Bellini

Filipe Manu

Pastorello d’un povero armento Rodelina Handel

Shikara Ringdahl

The Swimmer Sea Pictures Elgar

Damian Arnold

Il mio tesoro Don Giovanni Mozart

Daniel Carison

Heiterkeit und Fro?hlichkeit Der Wildschütz Oder Die Stimme Der natur Lortzing

Paull-Anthony Keightley

Fear no more the heat o’ the sun Let Us Garlands Bring Finzi

Filipe Manu

Ah mes amis… Pour mon a?me La Fille Du Régiment Donizetti

Shikara Ringdahl

Se Romeo t’uccise un figlio… La tremenda ultrice spade I Capuleti E I Montecchi Bellini

Interval - 20 minutes

Opera Australia Orchestra

Overture Romeo and Juliet Tchaikovsky

Sitiveni Talei

Largo al factotum Il Barbiere Di Siviglia Rossini


Jeffrey Black

Sir John Key GNZM

Midori Miyazaki

Catrin Johnssoni

Approximately 3 hours with 20-minute interval.

Tonight’s performance has been granted a licence by APRA/AMCOS



Sunday 4th June 4:30pm

The Independent Theatre
269 Miller St, North Sydney NSW


Monday 5th June 1:00pm

The Independent Theatre
269 Miller St, North Sydney NSW


Saturday 15th August 7pm

The Concourse Theatre
Cnr Victoria Ave and Anderson St, Chatswood NSW

2017 IFAC Australian Singing Competition Semi-Finals Concert Programme

2017 Sponsors

2015 IFAC ASC Sponsor - IFAC 2015 IFAC ASC Sponsor - MOST 2015 IFAC ASC Sponsor - ABC Classic FM 2015 IFAC ASC Sponsor - Gridiger Lawyers

2017 Special Thanks

Meltem AKYOL






Michelle BASSIN



Jeffrey BLACK


Nathan BRYON





Meredith CHENG


Conal COAD




Jacqueline DARK

Christine DOUGLAS

Sigmund EBERT



David FULL

Sabina FULL



Richard GILL OAM


Margaret HAGGART


Jessica HARPER

Maria & John HEPWORTH


Rosamund ILLING




Rhonda JONES


Right Honourable Sir John KEY GNZM



Rosario LA SPINA


Michael LEWIS






Camille MER?EP




Naomi MUIR

Dominica NATOLI

Milijana NIKOLIC

Madeleine O’DEA


Patricia PRICE 




Sally-Anne RUSSELL




Sitiveni TALEI



Nicholas TOLPUTT

Claude ULLIN




Nicole YOUL

Alexander YOUNG


Calendar / Events

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Emma Moore shares her experience winning the Marianne Mathy Scholarship.

Emma Moore, Soprano

Winner of the 2011 Marianne Mathy Scholarship, Emma shares her experience about the ASC and what it's like to win 'The Mathy'

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