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A Very Special Event

June 18, 2019 June 2019 No Comments

Winifred and David.

Most opera lovers’ commitment to the art form involves buying tickets to public performances.  Winifred Bull and her husband David decided to take their love of opera a whole lot further.  They designed a new home with enough space to stage concerts for more than 100 people. 

They particularly wanted to support young singers, who typically have limited opportunities to perform for the public.  Working with the Dame Malvina Major Foundation (2 concerts) and Music Victoria (6 concerts) they have not only provided a chance for up-and-coming talent to shine but have also have raised more than $40,000 in the process.   

Sadly David died suddenly in 2017 but Winifred is determined to maintain the tradition the two of them created.  “He loved opera so much I know he would have wanted me to continue.  I’ve had wonderful support from local people like Bernie Jackson and Tom and Di Bunny.  They have made it possible for me to keep doing this.”  Tom even made a public pledge to Winifred to  happily be your chair stacker for life and will obey most of your orders with a reasonably cheerful demeanour…’ 

This year’s concert on May 19 was another sell out.  The audience was unanimous in their praise of the event and the performance of the young singers.   They said that the chance to hear and to support the students at the start of their careers was what they valued most.  Locals in the audience loved the fact that Martinborough could offer such high quality performances “just down the road”. 

As the reputation of the concerts has grown there is increasing competition among the students to be chosen for the programme    For them “the warm and supportive audience” was a huge factor. They also rated the venue highly for its fine acoustics and intimate setting.    They felt it gave them the opportunity to make a real connection with the audience both during and after the concert. 

This year’s concert was special for another reason.   The New Zealand School of Music – Te Kōkī announced it is setting up a scholarship for young singers that will be named after Winifred and David’s Vineyard, The Cabbage Tree.   This endowed fund will make a grant of $5000 to a singing  every year, in perpetuity.  

All this would have gladdened David’s heart.   You hope that somewhere he is smiling his warm gentle smile and listening blissfully to the music he loved so much, knowing that he and Winifred have created something special for opera lovers, for the performers and for Martinborough.   

Performers: Margaret Medlyn, Robert Tucker (Tutors), Sinéad Keane, Jessie Rosewarne, Michaela Cadwgan, LJ Crichton, Jeffrey Dick, Morgan King and Sam McKeever.  Accompanist David Barnard. 

Featured composers: Mozart, Handel, Donizetti, Mussorgsky, Verdi, Brahms, Monteverdi, Puccini, Offenbach, Bellini, Gilbert and Sullivan, Korngold, and Gershwin.

If you are interest in supporting the Cabbage Tree and Martinborough Community Scholarship in Vocal Performance you can contact Rosalene Fogel at the School of Music.    Rosalene.Fogel@vuw.ac.nz

                            Chris Cassels

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