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Free concert strikes just the right note

New Zealand News

February 7th, 2002

Fine weather and free music capped the day for 45,000 at the Domain. Picture / Glenn Jeffrey

They spilled from the steps of the Auckland Museum down the expanse of lawn to the giant stage - 45,000 people who had crowded into the Auckland Domain for a free concert last night.

And it was not just any concert.

It boasted English tenor Russell Watson, who has become an opera sensation in the past three years, young New Zealand star Hayley Westenra, Faye Tozer from English pop group Steps, the Auckland Philharmonia and various local choirs.

The moment 14-year-old Westenra emerged on to the stage and sang the first notes of Pie Jesu, it was clear this was going to be a concert to remember.

Organiser Ian Magan said such an event would not usually be free.

But the concert, which was being filmed for a television special to be broadcast in Britain, the United States, New Zealand and Australia, was organised in only seven weeks - not enough time to build an audience for ticket sales.

"It's free so we could have a big audience for the filming."

The crowd started building around 1 pm, most people bringing picnics and deck chairs so they could enjoy the concert in comfort on a warm evening.

For some there was an internal debate about whether last night's Black Caps' game or the concert took precedent.

Paul and Sheryn Cressey from Half Moon Bay solved the dilemma by bringing along their transistor radio.

When they heard one of the highlights of the concert, a duet of Pokarekare Ana sung by Watson and Westenra, they would have been pleased they chose the concert.

Most who attended would agree that it was a remarkable evening.

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