voice charms Pops' holiday show
Journal Arts Writer
The Boston Pops pulled into the Ryan Center last night
with a special holiday treat -- a 17-year-old from New
Zealand with the voice of an angel.
Hayley Westenra has yet to
make a big splash in the United States. But based on her
performance in Kingston last night, it's only a matter
Westenra, who sang a half-dozen
songs, including a haunting rendition of "I Wonder
as I Wander," belongs to that hard-to-figure genre
known as classical crossover. But for the Pops and conductor
Keith Lockhart, she stuck pretty much to Christmas fare,
including "Little Drummer Boy," and for an encore,
a melting arrangement of "Have Yourself a Merry Little
Dressed in a white gown,
Westenra stood on an elevated platform amid a chorus of
perhaps 50 voices as she sang her opening selections,
which included a moving "Ave Maria" that had
the bell-like clarity you might expect from an English
Westenra has one of those
pure, unadulterated sounds that's somewhere between a
boy soprano and a young lyric. Where the voice will go
is anyone's guess, but for now it is ravishing, light,
clean and almost vibratoless.
But enough about Westenra,
who will be returning in April for a solo concert at the
Providence Performing Arts Center. Last night was a time
for sing-alongs, jazzy renditions of old standards and
The turnout for the concert
was so huge that traffic was backed up bumper to bumper
well west of the the Kingston railroad station.
Lockhart, wearing a red shirt
and red socks (that resulted in a little baseball humor)
opened the evening with "Joy to the World" and
moved on to the the Hallelujah Chorus from Handel's Messiah.
But it was some of the less
familiar music that was most memorable, such as John Rutter's
tender "What Sweeter Music?" for chorus and
orchestra. The first half of the concert concluded with
a medley called Songs from the Hill Folk, which included
Westenra's "I Wonder as I Wander," a jazzy "Kentucky
Wassail" and to wrap things up, a lush "Go Tell
It On the Mountain."
The Pops' Christmas bash
is not all that different from most holiday offerings
in terms of format -- a mix of religious music, carols
and a tip of the baton to Hanukkah -- but there is something
sumptuous about the Boston sound and something classy
about its arrangements.
Just before the sing-along,
Santa appeared at the back of the hall with a sack of
gifts slung over his shoulder. Poor Santa, his best tree
decorator is on extended leave. Oh, who's that, asked
Lockhart. Martha Stewart, says Santa. All that was missing
was the drum roll.
The cutest moment of the
evening came when Bethany Seidel and her young daughter
read "Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus."
Afterward, Lockhart scooped the little girl from the floor
for a big hug.
located by Keith S.
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