1,324 singers entered the first Mobil Song Quest in 1956 – a nation-wide radio contest. Each singer went into their local radio station, recorded a ballad in English and their efforts were serialised into 19 weeks of radio programmes. By all accounts it was riveting radio and a nation-wide interest swiftly grew in finding New Zealand’s best young singers.

As society changed, so did the competition. Ensembles and Gilbert & Sullivan sections were some of the developments that were rather short-lived, but the influence of one singing teacher in Auckland, Sister Mary Leo, and the success of many of her students, helped to shape the competition into a more serious and perhaps more sought after prize. Input from some of the international judges has also helped to shape the competition into what it is today.

In 2005, nearly 50 years later, 61 young singers entered the first Lexus Song Quest – a much more challenging competition. They had to prepare a wide-ranging programme of classical music in three languages. Over time, the competition has become far more focused in its objectives and so have the singers. They have been inspired by the achievements of those who have gone before them – not only by the impressive list of winners and their international careers, but by the many finalists and place-getters who have laid the foundations of strong vocal teaching and performance within New Zealand.

Now managed by Tāwhiri, the Lexus Song Quest is presented in an era of professionalism in the arts industry. Orchestras, opera companies and festivals around the country are all potential employers of the finalists. Success in the Grand Final of the Lexus Song Quest opens the door for the best to join the recent winners of the Quest, such as Teddy Tahu Rhodes, Jonathan Lemalu, Madeleine Pierard and Amitai Pati.

The 2018 Lexus Song Quest winner was bass baritone Joel Amosa, who has performed up and down New Zealand and around the globe, with plans to study in Helsinki, Finland and take part in Summer School programmes across America and Europe in 2020.

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Previous Winners

2018 Joel Amosa
2016
Benson Wilson
2014
Isabella Moore
2012
Amitai Pati
2009
Aivale Cole
2007
Phillip Rhodes
2005
Madeleine Pierard
2002
Anna Leese
2000
Jared Holt
1998
Jonathan Lemalu
1996
Andrea Creighton
1993
Martin Snell
1991
Teddy Tahu Rhodes
1989
Tracey King
1987
Deirdre Elliot

1985 Robyn Lynch
1983
David Griffiths
1981
Linden Loader
1979
Malcolm Smith
1977
Lyle Kennaway
1974
Christopher Lackner
1972
Christopher Doig
1970
Patricia House
1967
Anne Rasmussen
1965
Kiri Te Kanawa
1963
Malvina Major
1961
Patricia Price
1959
Mary O’Brien
1957
Paul Gilmore
1956
Donald Jack