WATSON LIVE (DVD)
Tozer and Hayley Westenra
Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra
Conductor: Michael Reed
Choirs: Viva Voce, The Chapman Tripp Opera Chorus,
Auckland Girls’ Choir, Auckland Boys’ Choir
open-air concert took place in Auckland in February 2002 in
front of an audience of 100,000; a figure which represents one
person in every forty of the entire population of New Zealand!
At the time, Hayley was still only 14. The material performed
throughout the concert was an eclectic mixture of classical
and pop. This format should suit Hayley’s future career very
well as she has said that she doesn’t want to be limited to
any one musical style.
has a noticeably casual and relaxed manner on stage, not only
with his fellow performers but also with his audience with whom
he exchanges ad lib comments in between songs. His informal
approach creates a real sense of fun and breaks down any barriers
which may have existed between celebrity and audience in more
traditional times. His popularity in New Zealand was evident
in the enthusiasm of the huge crowd.
first three songs were ‘Torna a Surriento’, Bach’s ‘Ave Maria’
and ‘Caruso’. He then introduced Faye Tozer (formerly of Steps)
who initially sang ‘Someone Like You’ in duet with Russell,
then performed her solo number, ‘If You Believe’. Russell then
returned to sing ‘You’re So Beautiful’ which he dedicated to
his little girl. This was followed by ‘Nella Fantasia’ and ‘E
Lucevan Le Stelle’. He then explained that he had heard many
beautiful voices in his life but that his next guest surely
had one of the most beautiful and one of the finest and surely
deserved the title “the voice of an angel”. He continued, “an
incredible voice; a very gifted young lady, Hayley Westenra”.
first song was ‘I Dreamed A Dream’ from Les Miserables, which
appears on her self-titled CD (only ever released in New Zealand).
Having admired the CD version, it was wonderful to be able to
see her perform it. She reached those low notes (down to A flat)
with such ease and maintained her vocal richness throughout.
She looked quite at home in front of such a huge audience.
introduced Russell back onto the stage and explained that, although
she had sung the next song many times, she had never sung it
as a duet. Russell quipped that he had never sung it before!
The orchestra began to play something which I could not recognise
as an introduction to the song listed on the cover but it faded
away to silence at which point Hayley’s voice rang out like
a vocal equivalent of a shining beacon across the skies of Auckland.
I don’t usually care for even a single verse being sung entirely
unaccompanied but, if the voice is Hayley’s, I could listen
to it forever. As soon as the first few notes of ‘Pokarekare
Ana’ were heard, the audience broke into spontaneous applause.
They clearly associated the song with Hayley long before the
immense popularity of Pure would make those two Maori words
almost a household name.
Hayley had sung the first verse, Russell sang the second to
orchestra backing and it was probably hearing him singing the
Maori lyric that caused the audience to erupt into further applause
at this point. The final verse saw Russell singing a counter-melody
to Hayley’s main theme until we reached the very last line.
Here, Hayley’s amazing vocal range was demonstrated as she soared
high to a top G which she held for an incredible fourteen seconds.
Powerful yet majestic, this was an inspired performance.
presented Hayley with a huge bouquet of flowers and, as she
left the stage, he said as though addressing all the people
of New Zealand, “How lucky you are to have produced a voice
like that”. And so say all of us.
continued the programme with renditions of ‘O Sole Mio’, ‘Volare’,
‘Somewhere’ from Bernstein’s West Side Story, ‘Where My Heart
Will Take Me, ‘Catch The Tears’, ‘La Mattinata’ and finally,
‘Nessun Dorma’. As this last song ended, there was a spectacular
firework display which the audience could see in the distance
behind the stage. Somehow it seemed a very fitting way to bring
this superb concert to a close. But, of course, it was not quite
brought Hayley and Faye back onto the stage for the last song,
‘Now Is The Hour’. The orchestral introduction was accompanied
by videos of New Zealand’s spectacular scenic beauty and impressive
city skylines. Hayley, Russell and Faye sang a verse each and
the line “soon I’ll be sailing far across the sea” was backed
by video footage of the New Zealand and GBR teams in the America’s
Cup. This received another burst of applause from 100,000 very
And so the concert ended. If you are quick, you may notice that
the closing credits include thanks to the Westenra family. I
would like to add my personal thanks to that. Thank you so much
Gerald and Jill for giving us the most wonderful singer that
the world has ever known.