Zoe Drummond has been awarded a scholarship worth $43,000 after wowing the judges with her emotional performance.

Soprano Zoe Drummond has been announced as the recipient of the 2016 Lady Fairfax New York Scholarship, awarded by the Opera Foundation for young Australians. Zoe’s assured performance at the Scholarship Finals set her apart from five other finalists, netting her the prestigious award. The 24-year-old singer from New South Wales will receive $43,000 to work with internationally acclaimed vocal, language, and movement coaches in New York.

A Sydney Conservatorium graduate and Melba Opera Trust Scholar, Drummond is no stranger to these competitions, placing second in the Mietta Song Competition earlier this year.

“From a very strong field of singers, Zoe stood out for her warm and rich voice, her technique and maturity for someone so young,” said Guy Noble, Head Adjudicator of the 2016 Scholarship Finals and member of the Opera Foundation’s Music Advisory Council“I am a bit of a pessimist, so I certainly didn’t think that I would win,” Drummond told Limelight. “But, I worked incredibly hard for this competition and had all my fingers and toes crossed that it would be my time!”

“Winning the Lady Fairfax New York Scholarship is potentially life changing,” said Drummond. “I have never been to the USA, so it has always seemed a little overwhelming,” she explained. “This scholarship not only provides the funds, but also the professional guidance and personal connections to bridge the two countries – making everything much easier! Having this support allows me to hone in on what I need as a performer, and focus on becoming the best I can be.”

The arias that secured the soprano her scholarship were those that she loves to sing and that challenge her. “My first piece, Nel Grave Tormento from Mitridate, re di Ponto by Mozart, is one of my favourite arias,” she said. “It shows a woman in turmoil, and she explores the two sides of her thoughts with very contrasting musical ideas.”

However, it was her performance of Monica’s Waltz from Menotti’s The Medium – chosen by the judges – that confirmed for the jury her rising star status. “I was lucky to have played the role of Monica in a production with Opera Prometheus, so it is an aria close to my heart,” she said. “This aria has a huge emotional range and vocal colours. I was very happy with their selection!”

It was in the final bars of this aria that, according to Noble, Drummond displayed “an emotional connection to raise a tear in the eyes of the audience.”