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Introducing New Zealand's next popra diva Julia Townsend debuts with Ivan Rebroff and Russell Watson

Julia Towsend, 18, will begin her international singing career at the Christchurch Town Hall when she is introduced to the world by Russian legend, Ivan Rebroff at his concert on 27 March 2004. Julia will sing Ave Maria with Rebroff and is the only guest appearance on his Australasian tour.

Julia's worldwide sole agent, Gray Bartlett of Pacific Entertainment Ltd, has confirmed Julia will appear in Tokyo with superstar Russell Watson on 16 and 18 April 2004 with the Tokyo Symphony Orchestra. Russell loves her "freshness and wonderful voice."

Growing up in Russia, Julia danced modern jazz/ ballet, studied Russian, French and English, and sciences, with the aim of becoming a lawyer. She started learning to play the guitar at 13 and since then has composed her own songs. Julia arrived in Christchurch with her mother Galena in September 2002, from her home city of Volgograd on the Volga River in Southern Russia.

She attended Cashmere High School for Year 13 studies, including music. A surprise slot on CTV last year led to her discovery, gaining a manager/mentor and world wide sole agent. Earlier this year she took her stepfather's surname (Bill Townsend is a Christchurch real estate agent) as her 18th birthday present to herself. Julia has just started singing lessons to extend the higher notes of her wide vocal range, and she is on a training regime to improve and strengthen her breathing.

She works part time as a checkout operator - and practices, practices, practices as the 27 March debut approaches. Julia's debut CD will be ready for release in May.

Media Release - 11 March 2004

The biggest Russian voice in the world welcomes a new Russian talent to the world stage
in Christchurch

"Julia Townsend is on the lips of the music industry after just a few weeks of discovery!" Russian singing legend Ivan Rebroff will introduce a sensational new discovery, Julia Townsend, to the world at his Christchurch Town Hall concert on 27 March 2004.

They will sing Ave Maria as a duet. Julia Townsend, 18, is a Russian-born "popra" diva -in-the-making, preparing for her international debut with Ivan Rebroff in New Zealand this month. Julia is the only guest singer appearing with Ivan Rebroff on his tour of Australia and New Zealand.

Next month Julia will perform alongside Russell Watson in Tokyo with the Tokyo Symphony Orchestra (16 & 18 April). Not bad for a girl who left her home in Volgograd, a Southern Russian city on the Volga River which flows into the Caspian Sea, and came with her mother to live in Christchurch in September 2002. The 18 months in a new land have given Julia the incredible opportunity of launching an international career.

In the last six months Julia has soared from studying music as a Year 13 student at Cashmere High School, to a surprise spot on CTV, to getting a worldwide sole agent, and then being engaged as guest performer with legendary Ivan Rebroff and superstar Russell Watson. Whilst those around are delighted at the speed of these events, for Julia it seems that time has been stretched out as she waited, and is now taking singing lessons for the first time in her life, aimed at extending the high end of her wide vocal range.

"In New Zealand there is everything for people, you can do anything. It is a good place and people help you without doing it for money or their personal benefit. This could never have happened to me in Russia." Home in Russia was a small apartment without a washing machine, a school routine that started at 8 a.m., and her best prospect was a career as lawyer. Now the world beckons, with the helping hand of Ivan Rebroff, known around the world for his role as the original fiddler in "Fiddler on the Roof" and whose four and a half octave range is in the Guinness Book of Records.

Serendipity smiles on new singing sensation! Serendipity smiled on every step Julia has taken from new émigré to professional entertainer. She came to New Zealand from Volgograd in September 2002 with her mother, Galina, who married Christchurch real estate agent Bill Townsend in December 2002. She missed her homeland enormously but soon saw New Zealand as a land of incredible opportunity. Earlier this year Julia (Yulia in Russian) gave herself an 18th birthday present by legally changing her surname to reflect her gratitude for a new life of huge opportunity in New Zealand.

Julia went to Cashmere High School for her Year 13 studies where she blossomed under the guidance of Gary Thin, Head of Music Department, and music teacher Noeleen Penter, continuing Cashmere's excellent record of developing and fostering young talent. It was this link which presented Julia with her first step towards the international stage. Local TV channel CTV's "Good Living with Kerry Pierson" programme had a weekly ten minute segment devoted to local talent or interesting people.

Pam Morris, who produced this segment, was suddenly faced with a gap when Irish Band "Sidhe" from Cashmere High School couldn't make their commitment due to illness. Noeleen Penter suggested that Julia could take the spot - offering Pam a complete unknown. "This beautiful young Russian girl came into the studio, and sang a Russian folk song with such feeling I got goose bumps on my neck, and tears in my eyes, and so did others in the studio. When she finished, there was just - silence. We were all literally stunned into silence by the beauty, warmth and passion of her singing," said Pam Morris, who is now Julia's manager/mentor. "I felt there and then that she definitely had the X factor!"

"I got a copy tape and sent it to talent spotter supremo Gray Bartlett of Pacific Entertainment Ltd, who immediately agreed to act as Julia's worldwide sole agent. And now, just a few months later, Gray has booked Julia with Ivan Rebroff and Russell Watson for her southern and northern hemisphere debuts." Gray Bartlett, director of Auckland-based Pacific Entertainment Ltd, said great beginnings don't get much faster than this!

"When I first heard Julia's tape I immediately couldn't believe that three international finds of such magnitude could happen in such a short time, and all from Christchurch!" Gray Bartlett said. "Discovering Hayley Westenra was my first, and creating her eight times Platinum first release was a bonus, then the USA success of Ben Morrison - but Julia is the most incredible young vocal talent I have come across in a long time!"

"Julia will be a huge star in a short time, and has this magical beauty in her voice. Julia Townsend is on the lips of all music industry people in just a few weeks of discovery!" Cathy Hemsworth, Sales & Marketing Director for venue manager NCC (New Zealand) Ltd, was also influential in engaging Julia for the Ivan Rebroff concert in Christchurch at 8 p.m. on Saturday 27 March.

The Christchurch Town Hall and Andrew McKinnon Presentations of Australia are joint promoters of the concert, and together agreed that Julia would be offered a guest appearance with Ivan Rebroff in Chritchurch. Cathy often recommends new Christchurch performers for international events, such as a guest spot at a conference, and as support acts for touring groups at the Christchurch Town Hall, Westpac Centre and Christchurch Convention Centre. For instance, she has previously engaged young violinist Ben Morrison and popular singer Paul Sharplin, who is now regularly requested for events.

Cathy said she is always delighted when a new talent is discovered in Christchurch and is first seen in public on the Christchurch Town Hall stage. "It will be a very special debut for Julia. She's so obviously totally committed, she sounds wonderful, she looks beautiful, and she performs with passion and maturity and has acting ability as well."

Julia's maternal grandmother was an aspiring opera singer but family came first. Her mother, Galina, taught drama in a private school, where Julia also studied Russian history, Russian, French, English and sciences. Julia writes her own songs, and uses the passion and love for her homeland in several of them. "I want to see myself as a very successful entertainer and I would like people to want to hear me again and again. I want to do my best, and show people music is about people's emotions and lives," Julia said.

For instance, her song "The One" was written to pay tribute to the man who taught her to play the guitar when she was 13, and who died after her arrival in New Zealand. "His name was Vladimir, and he had heard something in my voice when we used to sing Russian folk songs around the family table. I was more interested in modern dance and karaoke at that time and didn't have much interest in playing guitar, but I loved it and that is when I started writing my own songs. He never knew of my success but I have told him in my song."

"When I sing of my homeland I think of the Volga River, the little apartment we lived in and the large Russian countryside, with wooded hills and many forests, and the huge Russian voices I grew up hearing in folk, classical and opera music."

Tickets are available from Ticketek outlets, phone . The concert starts at 8 p.m. on Saturday 27 March 2004 at the Christchurch Town Hall Auditorium.


Contact details Gray Bartlett of Pacific Entertainment Ltd, on phone or or email