A line-up of Lexus luxury cars spanned Holy Trinity Cathedral forecourt, greeting those who had come to hear the three Auckland prizewinners in the 2012 Lexus Song Quest.

In truth, next to last Thursday's main event, held in Wellington's Michael Fowler Centre with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra and relayed live by Radio New Zealand Concert, our Saturday Winners' Recital was distinctly low-key.

One's heart went out to the singers coping with acoustics among the city's most unforgiving, as well as to Terence Dennis, who had to turn his grand piano to anything from Handel to Rodgers and Hammerstein.

On air last Thursday, Amitai Pati was a clear winner. In the flesh, the young Samoan tenor had breezy assurance, an irresistible smile and a natural, unforced voice. He may have brought along only 13 minutes of music (15 if a repeated encore is counted) but the pleasure he conveyed in singing to us made any criticism mere carping.


Perhaps arias by Cilea and Giordano could have had a little more verismo lustiness.

Runner-up Stephen Diaz, the competition's first countertenor, was most seriously affected by th cavernous venue. "Verdi prati" from Handel's Alcina needed a Baroque band and intimate surroundings to do justice to his nuanced ornamentation.

Third place-getter Alexander Wilson sacrificed vocal tone in working the hall with lieder by Schubert and Beethoven.

Tonight at Holy Trinity, judge Dennis O'Neill is taking a masterclass. It's free and comes with the bonus of hearing soprano Bryony Williams, an impressive contestant last week.

What: Lexus Winners' Recital.
Where: Holy Trinity Cathedral.
When: Saturday.