Lexus Song Quest

The Lexus Song Quest (formerly known as the Mobil Song Quest) is a biennial opera singing competition, held in New Zealand since 1956. The competition is managed and presented by the New Zealand International Arts Festival. Winners include the sopranos Dame Malvina Major and Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, both of whom were trained by Dame Sister Mary Leo. Kiri Te Kanawa was better known as a pop singer and club entertainer when she won the contest.


First held in 1956, the Mobil Song Quest began as a radio contest. 1324 entries were made, with contestants recording a song at their local BCNZ radio station. The recorded works were then broadcaster in shows over 19 weeks.[1]

Originally the quest featured contestants who performed songs in a variety of styles, such as country and western, pop and classical. Only more recently has the contest been primarily for opera singers. The influence of Auckland opera singing teacher Dame Sister Mary Leo and the success of her students helped shape the contest, turning it into a more prestigious singing competition.

From its beginning, the song was sponsored by and run by Mobil Oil New Zealand. However, in 2004 the oil company passed the competition on to the New Zealand International Arts Festival Trust. Mobil withdrew as the naming-rights sponsor, with Lexus stepping in to that role.[2][3]

Past winners

Year Winner
1956 Donald Jack
1957 Paul Gilmore
1959 Mary O'Brien
1961 Patricia Price
1963 Malvina Major
1965 Kiri Te Kanawa
1967 Anne Rasmussen
1970 Patricia House
1972 Christopher Doig
1974 Christopher Lackner
1977 Lyle Kennaway
1979 Malcolm Smith
1981 Linden Loader
1983 David Griffiths
1985 Robyn Lynch
1987 Deirdre Elliott
1989 Tracey King
1991 Teddy Tahu Rhodes
1993 Martin Snell
1996 Andrea Creighton
1998 Jonathan Lemalu
2000 Jared Holt
2002 Anna Leese
2005 Madeleine Pierard
2007 Phillip Rhodes
2009 Aivale Cole
2012 Amitai Pati
2014 Isabella Moore
2016 Benson Wilson


  1. "HISTORY". Lexus Song Quest. Lexus Song Quest. Retrieved 9 December 2015.
  2. "Mobil Sends Song Quest Soaring For Higher Notes". Scoop. Scoop. Retrieved 9 December 2015.
  3. "LEXUS SONG QUEST 2014". Lexus. Lexus. Retrieved 9 December 2015.
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