ARTicle Magazine

Lexus Song Quest: a remarkable journey

Catherine Cradwick · 25 May 2018

The Lexus Song Quest journey is underway, with semi-finalists announced 30 May. ARTicle talks to three previous finalists –  Isabella Moore, Amitai Pati and Madison Nanoa – about their Lexus journey.

Lexus triptych

Clockwise from top: Madison, Isabella, and Amitai


Tickets go on sale this week to the 2018 Lexus Song Quest Grand Final Gala on Saturday 28 July in Auckland. Follow the journey here.

This month, 10 talented young singers will find out they’ve made the grade as semi-finalists in Lexus Song Quest 2018. Their journey continues an exhilarating five-month ride, from application and audition to – for five lucky finalists – competing in the Grand Final at the Auckland Town Hall in July. 

From auditions and workshops with international head judge Lisa Gasteen, to photo-shoots, media calls and preparations for the final performance with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, these young singers will get a taste of life as a professional opera star. It’s a remarkable experience and we catch up with three previous Lexus Song Quest finalists to find out their highlights.

What was your favourite part of the Lexus journey, from entrant to finalist?

Amitai Pati was winner of Lexus Song Quest 2012 and is a member of the successful Sol3 Mio trio with his brother Pene Pati and cousin Moses Mackay.

I’d have to say that my favourite part of the journey was getting to share the final with my family. My brother had never competed in the Lexus and he’s a rising operatic star himself so having him and the rest of my family in the audience that night gave me that extra kick. After I was announced as the winner, I searched the audience for my brother because I told him before the night had begun that if I take first place, I would bring him up on stage. My mum had left the room because she was so nervous for me only to be told by someone outside that her son had won. She was over the moon!

Isabella Moore was winner of Lexus Song Quest 2014. Earlier this year she took part in Marilyn Horne's "The Song Continues" programme at Carnegie Hall in New York, and she is also a 2017 Music Academy of the West alumnus.

Hands down, singing with the orchestra. It’s addictive singing with orchestra, and once you try it you want to do it all the time! 

Madison Nonoa was a finalist in Lexus Song Quest 2016 and is studying with Yvonne Kenny at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London.

Definitely the time we got to spend rehearsing with the NZSO in the lead up to the final. I remember walking into the rehearsal room and hearing the orchestra warming up, playing parts of the Mozart aria I was going to sing and it was just one of the best memories of my performing life! I felt very lucky, and I will never forget having that opportunity to work with them. 

How would you describe your Lexus Song Quest experience overall?

Amitai: I know that the Lexus Song Quest helped me so much. It gave me an opportunity to showcase my abilities to the rest of the country and perform on a platform that would help to launch my solo career. I am grateful for the judges, competitors and musicians who came together to create the music that I love so much. I will always remember my experience as a constructive one; helping to create the artist that I am today. The Lexus Song Quest helped me to hone my operatic skills and I will never forget that.

Lexus Song Quest ... gave me an opportunity to showcase my abilities to the rest of the country and perform on a platform that would help to launch my solo career.

Isabella: Overall, it was a great experience. I learned a lot, not just about the performance side of things, but I gained invaluable media experience. From the semifinalist stage through to being named the winner, I was being interviewed by different media platforms: broadcast news, print and internet. Of all the competitions I have entered, the Lexus Song Quest is the only one that gives you a taste of everything: recording in studio, media attention and live performance with both piano and orchestra. I loved my Lexus Song Quest experience! 

Madison: A whirlwind: it taught me so much about how to handle my nerves and gave me one of the biggest opportunities in my life I’ve had to date — it was through the Lexus that I met Yvonne Kenny, who is now my teacher at Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London.

Lexus taught me so much about how to handle my nerves and gave me one of the biggest opportunities in my life

Follow the 2018 Lexus Song Quest journey here