Lexus Song Quest: Meet Joe Haddow

25 June 2018

Opera singing scientist Joe Haddow is one of ten Lexus Song Quest Semi-Finalists. Follow the journey of these elite young opera talents as they compete for New Zealand’s most prestigious singing accolade and a share of $90,000 in prizes.

Be there for the thrilling Lexus Song Quest Grand Final Gala on 28 July at the Auckland Town Hall. Tickets are on sale now at

It’s not every day you meet an opera singing scientist. 2018 Semi-Finalists Joe Haddow, who hails from Porirua, is following his opera dream – currently working on The Elixir of Love with New Zealand Opera, and singing with Kāpiti Chamber Choir – all while pursuing a Bachelor of Science double major in Ecology and Biodiversity, and Cell and Molecular Bioscience at the Victoria University of Wellington.

Joe took a round-about path to opera singing, starting out as a saxophonist. “In Year 12 at Aotea College, I got persuaded to join the barbershop chorus, which led to my teachers suggesting that I should consider using singing as a solo instrument for assessment alongside saxophone.”

“Subsequently I auditioned for New Zealand School of Music, even though I’d only been singing seriously for a few months and was accepted."


"So now I have a Bachelor of Music in Classical Performance with Honours under the tutelage of Margaret Medlyn and James Clayton.”

When asked how he ended up also doing a double major in science Joe replies: “I was always planning on studying science long before music came up; I actually just really wanted to be a zoo keeper for most of my college years! It's fantastic to have a strong understanding about the world we live in and it's certainly always good to have another thing on the go to keep the mind occupied when music just gets a bit too all-encompassing.”

For the Semi-Finals Joe is singing pieces by Mozart, Schumann and Fauré: “I chose these songs because they are moving, whether depressing and angry, or beautiful and emotional.”

“To be a Lexus Song Quest Semi-Finalist is unreal. To be honest I never expected this – it’s pretty cool it happened. It’s a real validation.”


From here the ten Semi-Finalists perform live at one of two invitation-only Semi-Final concerts on 21 & 22 July in Wellington, where Head Judge Lisa Gasteen will select the five Finalists who will go on to perform with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra at the Lexus Song Quest Grand Final Gala, on 28 July at the Auckland Town Hall. Tickets are on sale now at

Who will win?

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