Rotorua baritone Christian Thurston has come third in the prestigious 2014 Lexus Song Quest.

The competition came to a head on Saturday night at the Auckland Town Hall.

Auckland soprano Isabella Moore was crowned the winner with south Auckland baritone Benson Wilson in second.

Moore's win makes it a hat-trick for Samoan singers - in 2009 the contest was won by Aivale Cole, and in 2012, Isabella's partner Amitai Pati was named the winner.


In the challenging contest, the six finalists each performed three pieces - one accompanied by pianist Terence Dennis and two arias performing alongside the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Emmanuel Joel-Hornak.

Acclaimed British soprano and vocal teacher Kathryn Harries was the contest's Grand Final international judge and said all six finalists had international singing careers ahead of them.

Mr Thurston receives a Study Scholarship of $5000 and a cash prize of $5000. Finalists each receive cash prizes of $3500.

The Lexus Song Quest has launched the careers of some of New Zealand's most celebrated opera stars including Dames Kiri Te Kanawa and Malvina Major, Jonathan Lemalu, Madeleine Pierard, Phillip Rhodes. Now studying in a prestigious UK opera school, 2012 winner Amitai Pati is one third of the hugely successful trio Sol3 Mio, whose debut record went platinum and bested Lorde by becoming New Zealand's biggest selling album of 2013.

The three singers will perform the Lexus Recital Concert, accompanied by Terence Dennis, at the Opera House in Wellington tomorrow.