by Intan Abdul
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Grand Prize Winner, 36yo Ana Maria Zota

Grand Prize Winner, 36yo Ana Maria Zota and Jye Lee

Romania celebrated major victories at the 11th International Vocal Open Competition, held at the Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre in Sentul East from 30 January to 1 February 2024. Three delegates from Romania clinched first prizes across various vocal categories at the world final. One of these winners also secured the grand prize of RM 20,000 at the international competition organized by the Hong Kong International Musician Association (HK IMA). This event marked the first time the competition was held outside of Hong Kong, with Malaysia honored to host.

Among the notable winners was 19-year-old Sabahan student Yico Wong Yee Khe from Kota Kinabalu, who emerged as the first-place winner in the Pop Song Open category, bringing pride to our nation. The Romanian victors included Diana Rad Maria (Operatic Open), Bianka Dora Blatniczki (Operatic Aria & Art Song), and Ana-Maria Zota (World Folk Song), who received RM 3,000 each for their achievements. Zota also claimed the Grand Prize, along with the fifth prize in both the Art Song & Pop Song categories, totaling RM 23,000 in winnings.

Romanian Winners

Only participants receiving 94 points and above from the judges were eligible for the first prize. These winners were also honored with the Rare Echo Award and a personalized original song. The HK IMA, established in 2010, focuses on international art communications and artistic level qualification, providing a global stage for musicians through concerts, masterclasses, lectures, and competitions.

The event witnessed nearly 500 international delegates of all ages competing across various vocal categories. A panel of 23 esteemed jury members from 9 countries, led by soprano Nancy Yuen, assessed the performances. The competition showcased top-quality delegates, making the selection process challenging for the jury.

The jury comprised distinguished figures in the global music industry, including Stewart Kempster from Wales, UK, Hong Luo from China, Israel Lozano from Spain, Anca-Daniela Mihut from Romania, Collin Qi from Singapore, and Melody Lee from Australia, among others.

Malaysia’s representation included Syafinaz Selamat, Lee Nai Kong, Helen Yap, Chew Paul Wah, Abraham Tee, and Cecilia Yap. Aside from judging, the jury conducted masterclasses and lectures. The final day featured a pop concert, awards presentation, Special Opera Concert, and celebratory concert.

The competition provided a platform for global delegates to showcase talents, exchange ideas, and build friendships, enriching the artistic pursuit. The organizers, HK IMA and International Musicians Alliance, alongside co-organizers Kinetic Music Entertainment, orchestrated a successful event with support from various sponsors.

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