Teen star shines in the Awatere

Stories and photos from the Marlborough Express

Monday, 04 March 2002

Several thousand people, teen singing sensation Hayley Westenra and bright Marlborough sunshine combined yesterday for yet another highly successful Awatere High Country Festival.

The third festival was the most successful so far, according to organisers, with twice as many people attending as last year.

A major hit was 14-year-old singer Hayley Westenra, whose performance was a contrast to the night before when a three quarters full house at the Marlborough Centre had to tolerate extreme feedback sounds, overly loud musical back-up and serious microphone problems during her 90 minute Blenheim show.

Centre manager Christine Brown said she was extremely frustrated at the problems which saw some of the patrons expressing their anger vocally during the show.

"Staff worked hard all night to get it better, but we never got the sound to a level that we were happy with - it was so frustrating, let alone disappointing," she said.

The Marlborough Express reviewer, Amanda Arthur, said the problems showed up from the start, when Hayley had to "haul her own mike and stand on herself." She was unaware it wasn't working during her first song. Staff changed to a second microphone in time for her follow-up number.

That didn't work either. The pianist was constantly drowning the teenager out, although Mrs Brown said that was a performance problem, nothing to do with the sound staff, as the microphone on the piano was turned off while Hayley sang.

"In the second half people were hoping the problems would be overcome, only to be greeted with screeching feedback. People with hearing aids were having to turn them off or take them out. It was awful," Mrs Arthur said.

The Marlborough Centre has taken full responsibility for the problems and all the equipment was to undergo a thorough check today.

"The frustrating thing is that at the sound check an hour and a half before the show, everything was fine. It sounded good, there were no problems. But then when Hayley got out there on stage, it all went wrong. That's Murphy's Law," Mrs Brown said.

As for Hayley herself, Mrs Brown said she handled the evening incredibly calmly.

"She was just amazing. She kept on singing. Even when she came off the stage I apologised to her and she just smiled and said, 'Sometimes things just don't want to go right.'"

The Marlborough Express



Hayley enchants Blenheim audience

Monday 04 March 2002

From Schubert's Avé Maria to Streisand's Memories, Hayley Westenra enchanted the audience at her one-off performance at the Marlborough Centre, writes Mandy Arthur in The Marlborough Express.

In the opening of the first half, concert-goers were treated to a musical montage by talented local pianist Marsha Stringer. This wonderful performance preceded the introduction of Hayley's accompanying musicians - David Pucker (lead violin), Olya Curtis (violin), David Daniela (viola) and Christopher Salmon (on cello). David Selfe, who travels everywhere with Hayley and her entourage, was outstanding on piano.

Putting aside the teething troubles and some technical hitches with the microphones, Hayley glided on stage and began what can only be described as an awesome performance. This stunning young lady, handling some difficult situations, such as the lack of microphone volume, with great poise and professionalism.

In the second half, the audience were introduced to Hayley's younger sibling, Sophie, who at aged 11 is obviously destined for the opera world herself. Sophie wooed the audience with her tiny frame and strong voice. The two sisters entertained with a beautiful duet, harmonising faultlessly.

Hayley continued to entertain through to the show's end and with a selection of music pieces well suited to an awed Marlborough audience. Songs from Gershwin, Schubert, Streisand, Lés Miserables and even a well executed song Bright Eyes, from the hit musical Watership Down.

All in all a wonderful performance from one of NZ's best up and coming stars.

The Marlborough Express



Awatere festival a big success

Monday 04 March 2002

A bit of sun, a bit of breeze, constant entertainment and a truckload of waffles - the perfect combination for yesterday's Awatere High Country Festival.

The festival, which attracted thousands of people from around the Marlborough region, was the third of its kind and the most successful yet, according to organiser Jill Moorhouse.

"It was a wonderful day. I would say we had twice as many people as last year. We had lovely weather and a lovely crowd."

One of the day's big drawcards was 14-year-old singer Hayley Westenra, who has emerged as a nationwide phenomenon.

There was also a children's choir from St Mary's school, pony rides and a bouncy castle for the kids. A horse and cart circled the large lake at the centre of the festival, while a river boat gave rides on it.

Rachael Westenra, who attended the festival with a troop of waffle cooking Seddon School students, said the day was brilliant. "The kids had a great time and we had a very successful day."

The school made $1800 profit out of their waffle enterprise - that is around 500 waffles to keep the patrons going.

The Marlborough Express



Saturday, 09 March 2002

FAMILY TIES: The Westenra family, brother Isaac, (left) aged 8, and sisters Hayley and 11-year-old Sophie. The Christchurch family accompanied Hayley to Marlborough, joining her on stage at the Marlborough Centre and the High Country Festival.


The Marlborough Express

Information supplied by Keith S


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