Opera singer Phillip Rhodes returns to Hawke's Bay for charity performance

By Alice Lock

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Internationally acclaimed opera singer Phillip Rhodes with his foster parents Pam and Henare O'Keefe. Photo/Warren Buckland.
Internationally acclaimed opera singer Phillip Rhodes with his foster parents Pam and Henare O'Keefe. Photo/Warren Buckland.

Opera singer Phillip Rhodes will be using his voice to raise awareness for the U-Turn Trust and Te Aranga Marae next month.

Mr Rhodes has become an internationally acclaimed opera singer since leaving New Zealand eight years ago and is returning to Hawke's Bay to perform Songs of the Heart with Patrick Powers and Catherine Norton at Iona College.

Henare O'Keefe fostered Mr Rhodes and his siblings and said that where the singer had come from to now was amazing.

"Things like this are not suppose to happen, it beats baking scones and having a hangi. He really deserves a pat on the back."

Mr O'Keefe said that from the day Mr Rhodes arrived in their life there was always a microphone or guitar not too far away.

"He was inundated with music and we just taught him how to use it as part of the healing process.

We helped unearth his talent as he was not aware of it."

"All we did was provide three square meals, a roof over his head and encouragement then he did the hard yards."

Mr Rhodes was a singing barman in Hastings before Patrick Powers saw him and scooped him up.

"He heard his voice and thought 'this kid was going somewhere' -- and you can say the rest is history."

Kiri Te Kanawa supported Mr Rhodes and her foundation allowed him to study in Wales at the elite Cardiff International Academy of Voice before he joined the roster of the Royal Opera House, in London's Covent Garden, to cover the role of Enrico in Lucia di Lammermoor.

"He has played at opera houses around the world, which is just like playing soccer at Wembley. Itis amazing."

Mr O'Keefe said Mr Rhodes had found a sense of value and a way to make a living.

The concert at Iona College will be held on Wednesday October 19and will focus on the U-Turn Trust and the Te Aranga Marae and their growth in the community.

Mr O'Keefe said Mr Rhodes was very excited about playing in Hawke's Bay and performing for this cause.

"The concert will promote local artists and we are having an auction where half of the money will go to the trust and the other half to up-and-coming stars."

He said the money could unearth another Phillip Rhodes the architect or Phillip Rhodes the engineer.

"We just want to help others and that is exactly what Phillip has done. He is looking forward to give back to the community."

Mr Rhodes will return to Britainafter his concert in Havelock North to perform the roles of Mizgir in The Snowmaiden and Peter in Hansel and Gretel.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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