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Thursday, 25th March 2004

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REFRESHING: Hayley Westenra

Rashid Razaq

In an age when youth is king, a pixie from the land of The Lord Of The Rings popped up to entertain classical music fans last night.

New Zealander Hayley Westenra, looking a refreshingly real 16-year-old rather than a raunched-up Britney or Christina, played convincingly to a receptive and record-buying audience.

Delivering the sort of shot to the arm the Beethoven industry requires once in a while, Hayley combined pop and classic with a touch of Maori and a twist of folksiness.

Her album, Pure, became the fastest-selling classical debut last year, and she continued to ride the wave of easy listening music to wash dishes by with numbers such as Never Say Goodbye.

The teenager's performance of Amazing Grace was powerful and her stab at Ave Maria was as beautifully moving as any operatic fat lady's.


In between her numerous dress changes she was ably supported by the classical Welsh singer Katherine Jenkins, who sang traditional Celtic shanties.

The show wobbled thematically with New Age mysticism as Hayley did her Maori songs to a backing video of California-style gymnastics on a beach.

Then her younger brother and sister, Isaac and Sophie, appeared on stage with a sweet if slightly cloying rendition of Greensleeves.

With the little lad got up like a junior snooker player and his sister all sparkly, they looked like a family entry at a pub talent contest at one point.

Nevertheless, Hayley stormed to the finale with her single-release cover of Kate Bush's Wuthering Heights, capturing all the off-kilter and kooky appeal of the original.

What did you think of the show? Have your say by submitting your comments below.


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Article link thanks to Gareth K
© Copyright 2004 GMG Regional Digital.


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