What A Night
spent some time thinking about what I would write as a review
of this evening, there is just so much to say. But, I decided
that, in deference to those who do not wish to be cured of insomnia,
I would keep it as short as possible.
the fun I had when I travelled down to the Royal Albert Hall
a mere 24 days earlier, I decided to err on the side of prudence
and allow myself plenty of time in case of delays. I set out
at 12 noon, allowing 6.5 hours to make the 4-hour trip. And,
guess what. There were no hold-ups at all. I averaged just under
60mph all the way and arrived at Hampton Court Palace at 4PM
- a full 3.5 hours before the Finale was to begin. Wouldn't
you just know it!
I had seen many pictures of the Palace over the years, to actually
stand in the grounds and look at the great West Gate, you are
immediately over-awed by it's sheer magnificence. What a venue!
is quite clear to see why Henry VIII liked the place so much.
And, it is no wonder it was at the centre of Royal life for
200 years. Below we have a reproduction of a painting by Leonard
Knyffe, which shows the Palace and gardens as it was for William
this was the place where it was all going to happen. I could
think of no more fitting a venue for Hayley. And I was in good
company. Roger had arrived, and we had the opportunity to chat
for a while (well, quite a while, actually). Before Roger arrived,
I had had a good chat with Steve Abbott, Hayley's manager, who
decided to play a trick on me. I was standing outside the west
gate when a voice came from behind "would you care for
some refreshments, sir?" Turning, there was Steve holding
a tray of sliced fruits. We chatted for a few minutes and then
he had to go - the fruit was for Hayley. As he left, Gerald
walked over to me and, again, we had a good chat for several
minutes. That is, after he had greeted me with a big smile and
firm handshake. After Roger had arrived, we were to see them
two or three times more. Chatting for a short while each time.
They really are both fantastic people. The very best.
with buses which always arrive late, these events seem to be
a few minutes late starting every time. It gives that extra
few minutes in a venue like this to look around and drink in
the wonderful atmosphere. Then it began. The Royal Philharmonic
Orchestra, under the baton of Owain Arwel Hughes, played the
Overture from "Die Meistersinger" by Wagner. A delightful
piece ideally suited to begin to build the mood of the audience.
This was followed by "The Walk to the Paradise Garden",
from "A Village Romeo and Juliet" by Delius. Another
step up, as this is a beautiful, melodic piece.
the big moment arrived! It was Hayley's turn to serenade the
audience, who were now in a highly receptive mood. She came
on stage to a hearty round of applause, and was wearing her
beautiful pink gown with the butterflies on it. In a setting
like this, it became more noticeable how effortlessly she moves,
and how she commands attention as she enters. Sounds somewhat
like royalty in itself. She opened with "Pokarekare Ana".
Enlargement available if required
yet again, I found new pleasure in listening to Hayley performing
this song live. Clearly, so did the audience, for they loved
it - and Hayley. There was very warm, appreciative applause
to follow this piece. Hayley took her bow and left the stage.
we were treated to a wonderful rendition of "Zadok the
Priest" by Handel. Things were warming up steadily as the
music we were treated to became more stirring as time passed.
The orchestra then gave us "Enigma Variations: Nimrod"
it was back to Hayley. Her next song was "In Trutina"
from "Carmina Burana" by Carl Orff.
Enlargement available if
available if required
such effortless ability, just what we have come to expect from
Hayley, she showed that she is very able to handle a more operatic
style as she delivered this to absolute perfection. Once again,
the audience rose to the occasion by showing their unreserved
appreciation for such an excellent performance.
orchestra and chorus racked up the standard of the proceedings
yet again with an emotionally stirring rendition of the "Hallelujah
Chorus" from "Messiah" by Handel. The mood was
not to be allowed to recede. The next piece is comparatively
rarely heard these days. As a result, few realise just how stirring
a piece it is. The orchestra now played "Crown Imperial"
by William Walton. This was composed as a coronation march for
the coronation of King George VI, it's first public performance
being in Westminster Abbey on 12th May 1937. In the years since,
it has lost none of it's power and grandeur.
we had a 75-minute interval
was an opportunity to get something to drink and to meet up
with Kirsty and Dave. After all, Hayley only meets people at
the end of a concert, not during the interval. So, off we went
to find the refreshments tent. No sign of Kirsty and Felipe.
No sign of Dave and Amanda (his daughter - no, not Emma - the
other one). I managed to get a drink and paid for it by taking
out a mortgage. As our friends had still not shown up, we decided
to head back through the great east gate and see if they were
on the other side. As we were about to pass through the gate,
Dave met us coming the other way. "Have you seen Hayley?"
he asked. It turns out that Hayley had changed into casual clothes
and had come out to meet people and sign autographs - IN THE
INTERVAL!! Typical, trust us to be on the side furthest away
at that time. After a few words, we stepped up the pace to a
fast walk, only to meet Kirsty and Felipe going the other way.
"Have you seen Hayley?" she asked. Funny, I thought.
I'm sure I've heard that somewhere before. "She's still
there," said Kirsty. After a few words with them, again
Roger and I set off as fast as we could. By the time we got
there, Hayley had gone. Gerald was still there so, I said "she's
gone back in now for a break?" "That's okay,"
Gerald said, "I'll go and get her, she's just having something
to eat". I was keen that she should eat first, and said
so to Gerald. But, Hayley would have none of it. She came straight
out to us and we had a lovely chat for about 15 to 20 minutes.
This time with Hayley was made all the more special as it began
and ended with a little hug and kiss for both Roger and I.
orchestra opened the second half with "The Old Hundredth"
by Vaughan Williams. This was the perfect way to pick things
up were they left off before the interval. Next up it was Hayley.
She came on stage in a beautiful, full, off-the-shoulder, deep
lilac gown covered in sequins which, as the light was now fading
and the stage lights took over, shimmered and glittered magnificently.
The audience were warming to her all the time. Her song this
time was "River of Dreams" by Antonio Vivaldi/Sarah
Class. (I don't know if anyone else noticed, but I did - there
is an error in the programme in which they refer to Vivaldi
available if required
Hayley performed this with absolute perfection. As she sang,
there was a gentle breeze blowing, which caught the skirt of
her gown moving it gently, as it did with her hair. This only
made the spectacle all the more effective and could not have
been better if it had been stage-managed that way. The only
way of describing the audience response would be to say "delight".
Once again, Hayley left the stage to rapturous applause. But,
there was something missing. Something I had seen several times
before - that gorgeous little wave she used to give as she walked
off. She had not done that at all, tonight.
up, we were treated to "I Was Glad" by Hubert parry,
followed by the "Intermezzo" from "Cavelleria
Rusticana" by Pietro Mascagni. Yes, I am sure that everyone
can see that the level was being ratcheted up steadily towards
a huge climax.
to Hayley. Her final song according to the programme was "Hine
e Hine" by Princess Te Rangi Pai.
available if required
delivered this with a full measure of feeling, which was lapped
up by the capacity audience. All too soon she finished the song
to very enthusiastic applause.
the first time, the conductor gave a little signal to the audience
to quieten down so that he could carry on. They obeyed. Proceedings
were cranked up another level now as we were treated to "Polovtsian
Dances" from "Prince Igor" by Borodin. Anyone
familiar with this piece appreciates how it whips things up
with its swirling, stirring climax. Just as well really, because
we had to go up another step as we were treated to "Jerusalem"
by Hubert Parry. Now, the audience got their turn as many joined
in and sang along, some waving flags. Well, why should they
sit there all night and do nothing? By the end of this, the
audience were fair bouncing in their seats.
is the point were the programme did not give details of what
was to come next. Yes, we knew what the next item was to be.
But, it did not say that Hayley would return to the stage to
sing "Rule, Britannia!" by Thomas Arne.
available if required
in all my life have I heard a more compelling delivery of this
song. Hayley gave it 120% and, for the chorus, she signalled
to the audience to join in. Which they did with gusto. The small
hairs on the back of my neck tingled as Hayley put everything
she had into a magnificently stirring rendition. The power and
the emotion were almost too much to contain. And I've run out
of superlatives to describe it. They audience went almost wild
over it. This time, as Hayley left the stage, there was that
wonderful little wave, and the applause grew in volume.
final piece of the programme was "Pomp & Circumstance
march No. 1" by Elgar. Now, it was the orchestra's turn
to put everything they had into it, under the masterful direction
of the conductor. They built it up, step by step, the chorus
joining in for the last verse. I don't know about them, but
the audience were virtually breathless at the end of it. Owain
Arwel Hughes left the stage as the audience gave much stamping
of feet along with thunderous applause. We were all determined
it was not over. The conductor returned to the stage and we
were treated to a reprise of the final verse. This time delivered
with even more power and emotion. As he left the stage again,
the audience rose from their seats and the foot-stamping began
again. This time the audience were not prepared to stop. There
had to be more. The conductor returned to the stage again, this
time leading Hayley by the hand. As the audience saw her, there
was not only applause, but a huge roar of approval went up.
This was so obviously for Hayley, everyone loved her without
she was to virtually reduce the entire audience to tears as
she gave us the most fabulous rendition of "Ave Maria"
by Schubert. It was fantastic, it was fabulous, it was just
so emotionally moving. After this song, Hayley left the stage
but, she had to come back to acknowledge the audience. Then
she was presented with a gorgeous bouquet of flowers. That really
was the end, and it left the audience drained. But, never had
anyone been happier.
orchestra played one more piece - and I have no idea what it
was. I was flying so high, it passed without me really noticing
it. The evening's proceedings were over, apart from a magnificent
firework display. Roger and I tried to go through to watch it,
but the throng of people created a traffic jam we could not
penetrate. So, we turned and headed for the exit. Once we had
gone out of the gate to the roadside, we turned and looked back.
So, we saw the firework display anyway. For the next half hour,
Roger and I discussed Hayley and her performance, trying to
outdo each other with the expressing of our appreciation for
her, her music, her whole family and Steve, her manager.
what a night! My four-hour drive home passed with hardly any
impression on me. I was revelling in the evenings entertainment;
memories of my chat with her, Gerald and Steve. And being serenaded
by her music all the way home on my CD player.
you Hayley! Oh yes, you've done it again. You improved on perfection.
is the entry from the programme about Hayley:
images 20040619_HamptonCourtFestivalFinale-05 and 06)
Enlargement available if required
available - and this time it is required
and Brochure Scans by Keith S.