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Lexus Song Quest winner

Aivale Cole wins Lexus Song Quest 2009
Soprano Aivale Cole has won the 2009 Lexus Song Quest. Competition judge Siegfried Jerusalem had hi


Soprano Aivale Cole has won the 2009 Lexus Song Quest.  Competition judge Siegfried Jerusalem had high praise for all six finalists and said the Wellington singer was "technically and musically ahead."

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Soprano Aivale Cole has joined the elite ranks of New Zealand opera singers after winning the 2009 Lexus Song Quest at the competition’s finals concert in the Auckland Town Hall.

Aivale triumphed after being a finalist in Lexus Song Quest in 2007.

The Wellington singer impressed competition judge Siegfried Jerusalem with her performances of John Carter’s Peter Go Ring dem Bells in the Lieder section, accompanied by pianist Terence Dennis; and Strauss’ Es Gibt ein Reich from Ariadne auf Naxos and Verdi’s Ritorna Vincitor (Aida) in the Orchestral section accompanied by the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra.

Aivale says she is ecstatic to win. “This was my last opportunity to be in the contest so I knew I had to give it everything. I’m absolutely thrilled.”

Judge Siegfried Jerusalem had high praise for all six finalists and was impressed by the “very high standard of competition, but Aivale Cole was technically and musically ahead. The way she presented and performed was very nearly perfect.

“I have no doubt she has a wonderful career ahead of her.”

The Lexus Song Quest (formerly known as the Mobil Song Quest) was established in 1956 and is a premiere biennial event in the arts calendar, focussed on artistic development for New Zealand’s most talented young classical singers and is open to singers aged 17 to 32 years. 

Previous winners include Dames Kiri Te Kanawa and Malvina Major, and in more recent years, Teddy Tahu Rhodes, Jonathan Lemalu and Anna Leese.

Aivale (32) is currently based in Perth, Western Australia with her husband Nicholas and two children, Morgan (5) and Rowena (2). She made her debut with the Western Australian Opera in the title role of Aida late last year. She graduated from the Australian Opera Studio with Honours and was awarded the Dux Prize in 2005.

Aivale also holds a Bachelor in Performance Art degree from NASDA in Christchurch and a Diploma in Performance Art – Opera from the University of Auckland. She won the 2006 Lockwood Aria and has been a finalist in the Sydney McDonald’s Aria.

Aivale has sung a wide range of operatic roles and featured in a number of new works including Classical Polynesia in the NZ International Arts Festival and Ifoga in the Christchurch Arts Festival.

She recorded a solo piece with the NZSO for the soundtrack of Peter Jackson’s film The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring. She has also toured New Zealand with jazz singer Malcolm McNeill and worked as an actress in theatre.

As winner, Aivale receives a cash prize of $10,000 and a Study Scholarship of $15,000 plus a return economy international airfare. Cash prizes ($8000 for second place and $5000 for third place) and scholarships were awarded to the runners-up and the other three finalists were each awarded $3,500.

Second and third placegetters were respectively, Wade Kernot of Auckland and Julia Booth of Hamilton. The other three finalists were Andrew Glover, Kristen Darragh and Polly Ott.

The three prizewinners head off on a Recital Tour performing with Terence Dennis in Christchurch on Sunday 26 April, Dunedin on Tuesday 28 April and Wellington on Thursday 30 April. Judge Siegfried Jerusalem will speak briefly at each recital and will also be conducting masterclasses in each city. For further information visit
The Lexus Song Quest is an initiative of the New Zealand International Arts Festival.

Written by

Sally Woodfield

24 Apr 2009