Prestigious scholarship takes young Tongan tenor Manase Lātū to Royal College of Music

    Young Tongan tenor Manase Lātū begins studying at the Royal College of Music in London next month thanks to a major scholarship.

    Lātū won the prestigious $20,000 Circle100 Scholarship.

    The initiative to support promising young New Zealand singers has been running since 1996.

    The judging panel was led by Director of the Lindemann Young Artist Development Programme at the New York Metropolitan Opera, Sophie Joyce.

    Joyce told RNZ Concert said she was in tears listening to Lātū and praised what she called the ”intimate” quality of his singing.

    She said that because singing was now so competitive, those who were going to succeed must have a hunger and drive and be prepared to sacrifice a great deal for their career.

    Lātū graduated from the University of Auckland, where he majored in classical vocal performance. He has  been a member of vocal group Voices New Zealand Chamber Choir and is an alumnus of Auckland Chamber Choir and New Zealand Youth Choir.

    Alongside his operatic involvement, Lātū has also been a member of The Shades, a group of four classically trained singers who perform operatic classics, Mariachi favourites, Pacific Island melodies and popular contemporary greats.

    Her has sung in a variety of locations, from the Islander Hotel in Raratonga to the Christchurch law courts and the Royal Albert Hall in London.

    Manase Lātū is from South Auckland and was educated at St Kentigern’s. He joined the high school choir in 2011.

    In 2018 he was a Dame Malvina Major Emerging Artist with New Zealand Opera and won the NZ Aria award.

    “Representing my family and my little country of Tonga makes me incredibly proud,” he said at the time.

    “Being the first full Tongan to win this prestigious award is just an indescribable feeling.”

    “I am passionate to bring awareness to my Pacific Island and Tongan heritage through my music.”

    Lātū described his father as a huge inspiration.

    “Although he is not classically inclined, he loves to sing.”

    The main points

    • Young Tongan tenor Manase Latu  begins studying at the Royal College of Music in London next month thanks to a major scholarship.
    • Latu won the $20,000 Circle 100 Scholarships were awarded in Auckland.

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