is purely sensational!
plays Manchester on March 24
term child prodigy does not do justice to 16-year-old soprano,
does not quite cover how remarkably talented the New Zealand
teenager is in so many different fields. And just how young
she was when people started to realise she was exceptionally
example, she was just six when her music teacher noticed she
had perfect pitch. When she was seven, she had learned to
read music and could play both the piano and the violin. She
got her first record deal at 13 and, at 16, made history when
her album, Pure, became the fastest-selling debut classical
is also an accomplished ballet dancer and can speak half a
dozen foreign languages.
achieved so much so young, you cannot help assuming Hayley
is going to be a right little monster. But, pleasingly, nothing
could be further from the truth.
is polite, bright, and thoroughly charming. And, thanks to
a supportive family, who she says keep her feet on the ground,
Hayley is also refreshingly down to earth.
is impossible to imagine her going off the rails by dating
a local boy her mother wouldn't approve of, taking up smoking
and getting drunk with her mates, like another young opera
loves what she is doing and would not jeopardise her blossoming
career for anyone, let alone a wannabe DJ.
released last year, has already become an international hit.
It is a mix of classical pieces, pop-tinged numbers, cross-overs
and two Maori songs, as a tribute to her New Zealand identity.
also, slightly incongruously, includes a cover of the Kate
Bush hit, Wuthering Heights.
from the record company played it to me and I absolutely loved
it. I hadn't heard of Kate before then, but I've really got
into her music. I'd love to perform more of her work,"
she says, in her cheerful voice.
Beatles producer, George Martin, helped make the album. Hayley
admits it was exciting to work with people of his stature.
But she does not seem as impressed as you would expect.
not exactly a Beatles fan. We did sing Yellow Submarine in
grew up listening to classical music, but says she likes pop
as much as the next teenage girl. Yet, it is clear she prefers
the classics. Ever since her talent was first spotted, Hayley
has been encouraged to sing and play classical music.
she insists it was her choice, and her parents never forced
her into anything.
I've done, I've wanted to do. My parents have never made me
do anything I didn't want to. I love singing and I love performing.
It is all I've ever wanted to do," she says.
the age of 11, Hayley had performed in more than 40 stage
shows, sung on TV and taken part in major concerts. Her big
break came in 2000, when she was spotted busking on a street,
in her New Zealand home city of Christchurch, by a producer
from Universal Music.
quickly signed up Hayley and launched her on the international
stage. Since then, she has performed at the Sydney Opera House
and the Royal Albert Hall, and shared the stage with Andrea
Bocelli, Bryn Terfel and José Carreras.
album sold nearly 300,000 copies in Britain in just seven
weeks. And now she has been made a Unicef ambassador.
so much already accomplished, it is easy to forget how young
Hayley is. She is accompanied everywhere by one of her parents.
At the moment, her father, Gerald Westenra, is with her.
says: "I'm having an amazing time. This is what I've
always wanted to do. There are, occasionally, times when I
want to rest or do something ordinary. So that's what I do.
But I wouldn't change a thing. If I wasn't here doing this,
I'd spend all my time wishing I was."
Westenra is at the Bridgewater Hall on Wednesday, March 24.
£19.50. For tickets call 0161 907 9000.
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