Soprano, who famously sang the Queen of the Night on horseback, receives the Order of Australia.
Merlyn Quaife, the plucky soprano renowned for her unconventional career choices, has ben recognised in the Queen’s birthday honors for her services to music. The Opera Australia favourite left viewers agog on Lipizzaners with the Stars, when she combined her love of music with her passion for horses by she singing the fiendishly difficult Queen of the Night’s aria while riding.
A performer of considerable versatility, Quaife, whose voice shows no sign of wear and tear at sixty, has performed in opera, oratorio, lieder and chamber music to acclaim throughout Australia and Europe. “I have enjoyed the most interesting and varied career, surfing my way though buckets of varied repertoire and loving it all”, she writes on her website. Her enthusiasm for contemporary music in particular is undimmed having embraced new works from John Adams to Gordon Kerry. She was a notable in Brett Dean’s Bliss for Opera Australia in 2010. “My favourite piece is always what I am currently doing”, she says. “Singing is my life blood – I hope to sing forever!”
Education has also been an important part of her career – between 1995 and 2007 she headed the Vocal Department at the Faculty of Music at the University of Melbourne. She becomes an Officer in the Order of Australia.
Another recipient of the Royal favour was Elizabeth Morgan, founder of Queensland’s Camerata of St John’s and a much loved music teacher. Brendan Joyce, the Camerata’s leader wrote on his facebook page: “Happy to see recognition in the Australian Honours list of Elizabeth Morgan, AM – my friend, mentor, teacher and the founder of Camerata of St John's which has allowed me a career in Australia. 50 plus years of altruistic and inspiring service to players and teachers and groups all over the place, and lots of that done at the ‘coal face’ of things. The true quiet achiever, deserving recognition. EM for PM”.
Other arts recipients include legendary soprano Nance Grant (Officer (AO) in the General Division) who has been an MBE since 1976. In 1977, she sang the role of Lady Billows in Albert Herring at the Royal Gala given for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth at the Sydney Opera House – her third Royal Command Performance, the others being at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl (1963) and the opening of the Sydney Opera House (1973).
The guitarist and founder of the group Guitar Trek, Timothy Kain, was likewise recognised for his contribution to music as performer, educator and mentor.
Another winner was 58-year-old singer, songwriter and composer Iva Davies, who penned the hit Great Southern Land for his band Icehouse back in 1982. The Sydney-based composer has worked for many years as a fundraiser for organisations like the Salvation Army, Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapy Australia and Music Assist.