Dame Kiri Te Kanawa presents The Kiri Te Kanawa Foundation Laureate to Julien Van Mellaerts at gala concert, Opera Holland Park, London, Thursday 20 June

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Photo credit: Chris Christodoulou

New Zealand baritone Julien Van Mellaerts was today presented with The Kiri Te Kanawa Foundation Laureate by the Foundation’s Founder and Chair, Dame Kiri Te Kanawa. At a gala concert to celebrate Dame Kiri’s 80th birthday at London’s Opera Holland Park, Van Mellaerts was presented with a unique artwork of New Zealand greenstone in front of a capacity audience.

In 2022 the trustees of The Kiri Te Kanawa Foundation established The Kiri Te Kanawa Foundation Laureate to honour a New Zealand singer whom the Foundation has nurtured, has achieved sustained excellence and who will continue their career into the future. The Kiri Te Kanawa Foundation Laureate carries a value of $60,000.

In a letter to Van Mellaerts about his award, Dame Kiri wrote: 

“You are a very worthy recipient, and we are so very proud of what you have achieved to date on and off the concert stage. Aside from your many competition successes, we were so impressed with your tireless work creating the Whanau concert which benefited so many of your colleagues and your initiative and professional approach to the planning of the song recital series at Opera Holland Park which provided valuable performance opportunities for so many young singers.”

Julien Van Mellaerts has been praised for his “charisma and vocal elegance” by Das Opern magazine and is highly sought after as both a recitalist and on the operatic stage. He won first prize in both the prestigious Wigmore Hall International Song Competition and the Kathleen Ferrier Awards, and represented New Zealand at BBC Cardiff Singer of the World in 2019. A graduate of the Royal College of Music International Opera School, and recipient of the coveted Tagore Gold Medal, Van Mellaerts has had great success in recent role and house debuts at the Verbier Festival, Salzburg Mozartwoche, Opéra National de Lorraine, Opera Holland Park and New Zealand Opera. Julien, with Dylan Perez, is the co-curator and co-producer of Opera in Song at Opera Holland Park.

The Kiri Te Kanawa Foundation was created by Dame Kiri in 2003 and is committed to assisting outstanding young New Zealand singers who have complete dedication to their art, with judicious mentoring, financial support and career assistance.