About Us

Emeritus Professor Nicholas Tarling

Nicholas Tarling, Emeritus Professor of History at the University of Auckland, was a world-renowned historian of Southeast Asia and a passionate opera lover. A regular attendee of concerts and operas in Auckland, Sydney and elsewhere, Nick shared his knowledge of musical history through talks on radio and in-person and through programme notes and international study tours. The Nicholas Tarling Charitable Trust provides support to those working in the two areas of his lifelong interest and commitment, the study of Southeast Asian history and music.

Manukau Symphony Orchestra

The Manukau Symphony Orchestra (MSO) is a community orchestra based in South Auckland, New Zealand. The orchestra presents a series of varied concerts annually to patrons from across Auckland at the Due Drop Events Centre (formerly the Vodafone Events Centre), Manukau and Te Tuhi Art Gallery, Pakuranga. 

In 2023 with a unique mix of youth, community and professional mentor musicians the orchestra presents the MSO CONCERT Series and MSO INSPIRE programmes enhancing the lives and wellbeing of its community, thus creating ‘…a very special spirit’.

The MSO CONCERTS 2023 are held at the Due Drop Events Centre DDEC, Manukau (March/ May/September/ November). These yearly concert series are the main activity of the orchestra with a high public interest.

This year sees the introduction of the MSO INSPIRE 2023 programme including school concerts, workshops and pre-concert talks. It is hoped that the various events of the Nicholas Tarling Aria Competition will form a vital part of this educational programme.

Through the orchestra’s unique Tuakana Mentorship Programme and youth scholarship initiatives, the MSO is the only symphony orchestra in South Auckland able to present a full range of genres from small ensembles to established orchestral repertoire to 21st-century works at a high standard.

The Manukau Orchestral Society highly values, and thrives on the diversity that its staff, players and audiences bring to the organisation. The MSO strives to reduce discrimination and racism, and increase social inclusion for all ages, genders, the Rainbow Communities, disabilities, national origin, new migrants and any religion.

See the MSO website www.manukausymphony.org.nz for more information.

Adjudicator Uwe Grodd

Uwe Grodd has been the Music Director of the Manukau Symphony Orchestra since its beginning in 1993. Grodd’s contributions to classical music have brought him considerable international acclaim and he has served as adjudicator for many competitions in New Zealand and in Europe. In 1997 he joined Naxos Records as an Exclusive Artist and to date, he has made world premiere recordings of more than 100 works. Grodd initially gained worldwide attention when awarded First Prize at the Cannes Classical Awards 2000 for Best 18th Century Orchestral Recording with Hungary’s Nicolaus Esterházy Sinfonia. Two Editor’s Choice awards, UK followed and the coveted International Record Review Outstanding award for recordings featuring the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Bournemouth Symphony, the Gaevle Symphony, and the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra. 

Performance highlights include eight concerts with the Mexico City Philharmonic and sell-out seasons of Handel’s rediscovered opera Imeneo in the Halle Opera house, when he was awarded the Badge of Honour for his services to the Handel Festival and the City of Halle, Handel’s birthplace.  Grodd is equally committed to the music of his own time, commissioning more than 50 works from New Zealand composers. He conducted the premiere season of the multi-media opera Galileo and was Artistic Director of Len Lye the opera, with music by Eve de Castro-Robinson. In 2021 he conducted the premiere season of the opera Ihitai ‘Avei‘a Star Navigator  by Tim Finn with the Manukau Symphony Orchestra, Auckland Choral and the Graduate Choir for New Zealand Opera for a sell-out season. The production was staged again at the end of last year with Grodd conducting Orchestra Wellington, Orpheus and Signature choirs and members of the NZ Opera chorus.

Uwe Grodd is Artistic Director of Auckland Choral. He is Professor Emeritus of the University of Auckland and is Post Graduate Supervisor in Music at the Canterbury University.


Adjudicator Patricia Wright

Patricia Wright has performed regularly in opera, orchestral concerts, festivals, recitals and CD recordings. She is one of New Zealand’s best known and versatile sopranos. She studied under New Zealand’s iconic Dame Sister Mary Leo and Australia’s famous Dame Joan Hammond and now is a revered tutor in her own right.

Patricia gained recognition singing at the major venues in London and throughout the UK. She recorded for the BBC in both live performances and recording studios. She was placed second in the prestigious Benson and Hedges Gold Award for singers and represented NZ in the Cardiff Singer of the World competition.  Returning to NZ in 1993, she continued to sing major opera roles, guest artist concert appearances with leading orchestras, oratorio and recital concerts both at home and internationally.

After teaching singing at the University of Auckland for eight years, Patricia continues to impart her passion, performing skills and experience to students and now spends a large part of her career as a vocal coach/tutor and continues to be a national singing competition adjudicator whilst still performing. Her most recent performance was the role of Mrs Grose in NZ Opera’s production of The Turn of the Screw.

Official accompanist Rosemary Barnes

Rosemary Barnes studied in London with Franz Reizenstein (Royal Academy of Music) and Lamar Crowson. Her interest in languages led to 28 years in London, working mainly with singers. She was on the music staff of the English National Opera from 1980–88 and taught singers and pianists at the Royal College of Music. She also undertook extensive freelance opera work with Glyndebourne Touring Opera, BBC television, Musica nel Chiostro in Italy, Opera Factory and Opera Northern Ireland, and performed in concert at Wigmore Hall, Usher Hall, South Bank and BBC Radio 3. She was assistant conductor on more than a dozen recordings for Opera Rara (bel canto specialists). 

In New Zealand, Rosemary led the Postgraduate Opera Diploma at the University of Auckland from 1993–99. She currently coaches Emerging Artists for NZ Opera and has been the official accompanist at the Gisborne International Music Competition since 1994. Performances include concerts with Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, Lesley Garrett, Sir Donald McIntryre, Emil Chudnovsky (violin), Robert Aitken and Leone Buyse (flute), and with the Trio Australasia (Alisa Willis – flute – and Ann Blackburn – oboe) on cruise ships and in Germany. Recordings include three CDs for the Continuum label. Rosemary was made a Member of the NZ Order of Merit (MNZM) for services to music in the 2000 Queen’s Birthday Honours.

Competition Coordinator Sam Girling

Sam Girling grew up in the UK and studied percussion and timpani at Trinity College of Music. He completed his Masters degree in musicology at Royal Holloway (University of London) in 2012 and his PhD at the University of Auckland in 2018, specialising in developments in percussion writing during the early nineteenth century. 

In 2021–22 Sam completed a DAAD-funded research fellowship at the Beethoven-Haus Archive in Bonn. He has published several book chapters and articles on his work as well as numerous edited volumes of early nineteenth-century chamber music. He has given pre-concert talks for the APO, an interview for BBC Radio 3, has presented at a number of international music conferences, and also lectures on various music theory and history topics at the University of Auckland. He also teaches drum kit at Rosmini College and percussion at Baradene College.

Since early 2023 Sam has been Production & Marketing Manager for Auckland Choral and has recently taken on the role of Competition Coordinator for the Nicholas Tarling Aria Competition.

For any questions, comments or feedback relating to the Nicholas Tarling Aria Competition please use the following contact information:

Sam Girling, Competition Coordinator