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National and international recognition for Grace

Regulus // Issue 3 // November 2022

More news for Cultural

Grace Lawrence (Year 13) professionally recording her award-winning song, Differently Now.

It has been an outstanding year of national and international recognition for multi-talented Head Prefect Grace Lawrence (Year 13), who has won an impressive selection of musical accolades.

In October, Grace was selected for the Sony Music Group Global Scholars Program, sponsored by Sony Music Group, and administered by the Institute of International Education, which aims to advance access to tertiary education at a wide range of leading music and music business education institutions across the world. As a scholar, Grace will have access to opportunities including unpaid internships, mentorship opportunities, structured events, and webinars to connect with SMG industry experts to cultivate an international cohort of future music industry professionals.

This honour is on the back of Grace winning the prestigious Play It Strange 2022 Lion Foundation Secondary School Songwriting Competition in August, for her stunning coming-of-age song Differently Now – an award that was too late to be considered for the Sony scholarship. Grace has also won a $35,000 scholarship to Victoria University.

Rector, Christine Leighton, presented the Play it Strange award to Grace at the Cultural Assembly on behalf of Mike Chunn, a former member of Split Enz, and CEO of Play It Strange. “I was in shock. I never expected to win or even become a finalist, after already making the finals of this year’s Play It Strange’s Peace Song competition. I was so happy and very grateful,” says Grace.

The Lion Foundation Songwriting Competition is the trust’s flagship songwriting competition, which has been run by Play It Strange for over 19 years. It is open to secondary school students from Years 9–13 throughout New Zealand. This year, the competition attracted 352 entries, which were whittled down to 50 finalists. Other St Andrew’s students to make the finals were Cindy Xiong (Year 13) who also won the David Richwhite Lyric Award for her song Colourblind, and Chantelle Xiong and Christine Jeon (both Year 11) for their song, Reminisce.

Head of Music, Duncan Ferguson, says Grace is a prolific songwriter, who composes mainly on piano and strings. However, she pushed herself in a new direction for Differently Now, utilising synths and drums to create a more electronic sound. “The song is also characterised by its clever and insightful lyrics. What sets it apart from most secondary school composers is the mature construction of the chord progression, the high level in which she recorded and mixed it herself, and the general music production.”

Grace received a $1000 Rockshop voucher, and says she is ‘very excited’ about the New Zealand On Air ‘Special Tracks’ grant to professionally record her song and make a music video. She will perform her song at the annual Play It Strange Awards in November in Auckland, and it will feature on the 2022 Play It Strange album.

Grace is a multi-talented musician, songwriter, and performer. In 2021, she was a violinist in the St Andrew’s trio, Vich Perfect, which won the New Zealand Chamber Music Contest. This year, she is concertmaster of the New Zealand Secondary Schools’ Orchestra. Grace has played in the Soul Band, Chamber Orchestra, and Symphony Orchestra since Year 9, and joined the Big Band this year. She has had several lead roles in St Andrew’s College productions, including a star turn as Velma Kelly in Chicago: High School Edition in 2021. “The support from my teachers has been unmatched, and I’m so grateful for them. I’m going to study Music Production next year at Victoria University, and feel prepared and excited thanks to the support I’ve been given from my Music teachers here. Ideally I would like to pursue a career as a singer songwriter, or produce music for other people.”

Multi-talented Head Prefect, Grace Lawrence, receives various musical accolades recognising her expertise and talent.