2004 Classical Brit Awards
ROYAL ALBERT HALL, LONDON
26th May 2004
A Night To Remember; A Moment To Forget
was my third visit to the Royal Albert Hall in six months, it
begins to feel like my second home! Each of those occasions
was for the same reason - and what better reason could there
ever be than to see Hayley?
would not be open until 7.15 but I arrived shortly after six
o'clock. I walked around the outer perimeter of the hall and
found a gathering of press photographers lined up outside Door
Number 6. A red carpet led up to the door though I suspect this
may not have been for my benefit! There was an air of expectation;
clearly, something was about to happen. Sure enough, within
a few minutes, a car pulled up and out stepped Maxim Vengerov.
He stood outside the door for what was obviously an arranged
photo shoot. He then stepped forward and spoke to journalists
and several people in the gathering crowd before he entered
I was behind
a wall of photographers as it became apparent that another artist
was being photographed which was clearly going to happen time
and time again as each one arrived. There was much shouting
from the army of photographers as they tried to catch the attention
of the celebrity of the moment. Amid the general cacophony of
sound, the name that they were calling was barely discernable.
Then I made out what it was.
Hayley", they were shouting. "Over here, Hayley".
I stepped up onto the bottom rail of the barrier that was between
me and the photographers but it did little to increase my height.
However, I did catch a glimpse of Hayley looking absolutely
radiant in a shimmering silvery-blue, sparkling dress. Her hair
was slightly wavy and she looked absolutely stunning.
from one end to the other but my view was always blocked. I
crept around the side but was told to move as cars would be
coming through. Eventually I found a spot where I though I might
be able to take a shot or two and ended up right next to her
while she was being interviewed. I had only managed to take
one when a voice behind me said, "Sorry sir, no photographs".
Thankfully I recognised the voice otherwise I might have belted
him one! It was Steve Abbott, Hayley's manager! I had not noticed
him or Gerald standing right behind me and wonder now if, in
my enthusiasm to obtain a better vantage point, I had pushed
them out of the way!
I took a
few more pictures before Hayley turned to enter the Albert Hall.
As she did so, she noticed me and said in her charmingly friendly
way, "Oh hi!"
was that, except for the continual arrival of a stream of celebrities.
I only had a passing interest in them. Hayley was my reason
for being there.
off to circumnavigate the building and, in doing so, I made
a minor discovery. I had wondered how the arrival of so many
artists at regular intervals had been arranged. Now I discovered.
already in the Albert Hall and were coming out of a door, one
at a time, on the other side. They got into a car which then
drove the short distance to Door Number 6. There, they got out
as if they had just arrived. This fiendishly simple escapade
worked like magic. Apart from Maxim and Hayley, I remember seeing
the "arrival" of Katherine Jenkins, Aled Jones, Amici
Forever, Myleene Klass, Bryn Terfel, Renee Fleming, Denise Leigh
and Jane Gilchrist, Vanessa-Mae and Nigel Kennedy. Nigel produced
his violin and entertained the crowd for a few minutes in a
none too serious manner. His antics went down very well.
the doors opened to those of us who were not up for an award,
I went in and lingered in the corridor expecting to meet Keith.
Through the crowds who were waiting to enter the auditorium,
I saw Steve Abbott approaching. Why? What was he doing there
amongst the riffraff? This epithet was clearly applicable to
me because, as soon as he saw me, Steve asked, "Who let
you in?" By then, my curiosity as to his presence had turned
to excitement when I saw that Hayley was with him!
and chatted for several minutes which is when I conveyed the
good wishes from Belinda Hutchison and Joe Sukenick, HWI Correspondents
in New Zealand and America respectively. Their sentiments were
very graciously received by Hayley. As we spoke, Hayley gave
me several of her beguiling smiles that rendered me almost speechless
but I did manage to give her a kiss for good luck (which probably
didn't help) trying not to smudge her make-up. She was apparently
less concerned about this than I was because, as I stepped back
to a respectful distance, she turned her head and offered the
other cheek…. so I stepped forward again and had another go!
the auditorium and took my seat. With only minutes to spare,
Keith arrived and told me that he had been severely delayed
on his journey. I told him of my adventures with the stars during
their photo call and he seemed spectacularly unimpressed! At
least he got there in time for the main event.
a superb rendition of Khachaturian's "Sabre Dance"
by Vanessa-Mae, the Awards Ceremony began. It was introduced
by Katie Derham, ITN newsreader and Classic FM presenter. It
amused me to know every word that she spoke just a few seconds
before she said them. You see, like Katie, I was reading the
"idiot board" which was placed directly opposite her
near the back of the auditorium. At one point, I read what she
was about to say and was willing her not to say it…..
now for New Zealand's greatest export since the lamb chop…."
Well, what a way to introduce a vegetarian! Hayley took the
stage and sang what for me was the highlight of the evening.
Unlike the version during the Pure tour, "Pokarekare Ana"
was now performed with the English Chamber Orchestra and choir.
It never sounded so good. Hayley, as ever, was note perfect.
She looked and sounded totally at home and her performance was
utterly spellbinding. If only she could have given us more than
one song but there were many other artists performing that night,
not to mention the little business of the presentations.
Vanessa-Mae and Hayley, we were treated to performances by Bryn
Terfel (accompanied by Catrin Finch on harp), the Choir of Kings
College Cambridge, Katherine Jenkins, Renee Fleming, Nigel Kennedy,
Amici Forever, Bryn and Renee in duet, and the English Chamber
Orchestra. What a line-up!
As you no
doubt know by now, Hayley was not successful in the Best Female
Artist category. That award went to Cecilia Bartoli and was
collected in her absence by Sir James Galway. Similarly, the
award in the Contemporary Music category was won by Philip Glass
but was collected on his behalf by Julian Lloyd Webber.
presented by Nigel Havers, Elaine Paige, Aled Jones, Classic
FM's Simon Bates, ITN newsreader John Suchet and composer of
"The Queen Symphony", Tolga Kashif.
And so we
come to the award for Album of the Year. This was the one we
had been waiting for. "Pure" had nestled comfortably
in No 1 position for a total of fifteen weeks in the Classic
FM chart and had not fallen below third place for 34 consecutive
weeks. Sales figures have been truly spectacular ever since
its release in the UK last September. The daily Classic FM programme
entitled "Most Wanted" often features Hayley on the
selection list from which listeners can vote. The ten most wanted
items are then broadcast during the following morning's programme.
On the day prior to the Awards, the selection included everyone
that had been nominated for one award or another. Hayley had
come out in No 1 position that very morning. When I arrived
at the venue, and during the interval, I kept hearing Hayley's
name being mentioned. It seemed that everyone was talking about
her. When the ten nominees for Best Album were announced, quite
a cheer went up for Hayley. That didn't happen for anyone else.
So, all the signs were there. Surely she was going to do it
and, if so, clearly she was going to be a very popular winner.
sitting with Gerald and Steve and several other people including
Myleene Klass, at a table on the floor of the arena just a few
yards in front of where Keith and I were sitting. Hayley had
already looked up and acknowledged us. I wasn't going to miss
this opportunity to witness the look of surprise and delight
on her beautiful face when she was declared the winner. I was
staring at her as we awaited the result.
is it. "….And the winner for Best Album of the Year is…..Bryn
I was stunned.
I couldn't believe it. What had gone wrong? Why did the public
vote not support the sales figures and the phenomenal chart
success that had been sustained for eight months? It just didn't
make sense. Of course, Hayley looked genuinely happy with the
result, applauded and smiled at Bryn who had been sitting at
a table next to hers and was now making his way to the stage
to accept the award. This announcement was the moment to forget
and I am sure that Hayley has done just that; a commendable
attitude and one that I wish I could adopt. Unfortunately, I
can't forget it. I would have given anything to see Hayley walk
up to the stage to collect the award that she deserved so much.
Sadly, it was not to be.
me wrong, I have great respect for Bryn and his achievements
deserve to be rewarded. I congratulate him. But, at the same
time, I find it inconceivable that Pure's sustained and immense
popularity was not reflected in the public vote on this occasion.
my disappointment that I had little interest in what followed
which was a duet by Bryn and Renee Fleming. I probably missed
a rare treat but I was still looking towards Hayley in total
the programme ended and people began to leave the auditorium.
I remained in my seat feeling stunned. When the announcement
was made, I remember feeling that I didn't want to be there
any more. Now, I didn't want to leave.
to my left led down to the floor of the arena and I noticed
that there was no gate to prevent anyone from passing through
in either direction. Many celebrities, their families, managers
and representatives from the music industry were still there
and I was not about to gatecrash the party. However, if only
I could attract Hayley's attention, it just might work. When
she looked my way, I stood up and held out my left arm with
the palm of my hand open towards the entrance to the gangway
as though to invite her to come. She tried but kept being stalled
by EMI representatives. We could see she wanted to come. Steve
came over to us and eventually said he would go and "rescue"
her and bring her over. It took several more minutes but she
eventually managed to break away so that Keith, our other UK
Correspondent Dave Ludlow and his daughter Emma, and I spent,
maybe, about fifteen minutes with her. It may even have been
longer; time passes so quickly when you're with Hayley.
Hayley greeted us like friends and was absolutely delightful.
She did not appear in any way disappointed not to have won an
award. I did not mention it just in case she was concealing
some disappointment. She probably thought nothing of it. Knowing
her, it probably had never seriously crossed her mind that she
just might win. Had she won, she would probably have been the
only person in the whole of the Royal Albert Hall to be genuinely
surprised. I know someone who was in the audience that night
who is a great fan of Bryn Terfel and even he was surprised
and fully expected Hayley to win.
Keith nor Dave mentioned the result either but we had a great
time chatting about Hayley's experiences since we last saw her
and some of her plans for the future. One thing that was clarified
was this: We were under the impression that she would remain
in the UK from now until her appearance at the Hampton Court
Palace Festival next month, taking her exams in the meantime.
However, Hayley told us that she will return to America on Monday
and will come back here for Hampton Court. Her exams are in
as our meeting ended, Hayley had to make a live broadcast for
New Zealand television. So, we wished her well until the next
time we see her (which is only three weeks away) and left.
thank you for another wonderful evening and for the time you
gave us which, as ever, was very much appreciated. Your day
will come. Regardless of the outcome on this occasion, you are
still my number one and you always will be.