I had any doubts about Hayley or her music, they were dispelled
by her concert at Joe's Pub and all that came afterward. I was
determined to hear her again live, and Stevo, Alena and Natasha
were all of the same mind with regard to her appearance in Bryant
Park, even if we were not to get up close and personal again.
It had been
a rainy and muddy week, but Thursday dawned cloudless, so I
loaded my bag with camera, film, and several enlargements I'd
made from Joe's Pub, of myself, Stevo, and Natasha and Crystal
all posing with Hayley and a few close-ups of Hayley herself.
The thought was I'd parcel them out to the people there, and
they'd be signed if and when they were signed.
Tunnel was a horror that day, but I'll not dwell on that. I
had a few dicy moments, even a cell-phone call asking me where
I was, but I found myself sitting down next to my friends well
up front just as the initial chatter from a local classical
DJ was ending and Skitch raised his baton to downbeat John Williams'
classic "Olympic Fanfare," known to all who watch
major sporting events. In the slower moments I passed out the
pictures and also passed around the other pictures from Joe's
fanfare, which is actually more a symphonic movement than a
simple flourish, several Olympic and Paralympic atheletes were
introduced, since this event was sponsored by the committee
overseeing NYC's bid for the 2012 Olympics. Among them were
Ireland's Deidre Murphy, Mexico's Carlos Arena, and, wonder
of wonders, Paralympic doctor and Irish tenor Ronan Tynan! Ronan
stepped up and gave a lovely, if slightly unconventional due
to a long recitiative beginng, version of "Danny Boy."
That alne was a great bonus, but afterwards the program continued
with Greek composer Manos Hadjidakis' lush "Never on Sunday,"
and then a suite of Georger Gershwin pieces, which included
"Rhapsody in Blue" and several excerpts from "Porgy
and Bess" sung very well by Puerto Rican soprano Brenda
Feliciano and played with great gusto by Cuban expatriate saxophonist/clarinetist
Paquito D'Rivera. A long salsa encore brought the first half
to a close.
time Alena and Natasha left their places and went back to the
VIP tent. Wonder of wonders, Hayley actually approached them
and they spoke a bit about this and that, though she said she'd
get to signing afterward. So they returned and we awaited the
brassy rendition of the finale to Rossini's "William Tell
Overture," known to all fans of the Lone Ranger, it was
time for Hayley. Skitch Henderson spoke well of her, but, alas,
pronounced her name "Hayley Westernra." Oh well. Whatever
her appellation, Hayley walked confidently on to the stage clad
in a blue-green sleeveless dress with a colorful flower design
and white three-inch sandal heels. We gave her thunderous applause
and loud shouts. She began with her signature "Pokarekare
Ana," lovely and ethereal, and all the more lovely for
being accompanied by a full orchestra.
she explained to the audience exactly what the song meant, and
began her second piece, "In Trutina" from "Carmina
Burana." The piece was letter-perfect with no sign of mistakes.
piece was George Martin's arrangement of "Amazing Grace"
a song she said she was sure everybody knew. In the second verse
the orchestra faded out, leaving it to her to carry the piece
a cappella, which she did with not one slip, showing she does
in fact have perfect pitch. She did not go for some of the high
notes on the recording, but, lest that be taken as a criticism,
she was also coming off of a concert in Wisconsin and operating
on one hour's sleep, to say nothing of not needing to strain
to make her point. High notes do not a lovely voice or lovely
arrangment make.. After taking two bows she left the stage,
to thunderous applause and a few people standing, and, I suppose,
it is here we should apologize to the Pops, for the six of us
seated together, myself, Stevo, Alena and husband Josh, and
Natasha and her dad, made a beeline for the VIP tent, where
naught but a white fence stood between us and Hayley, leaving
the orchestra to finish the program with Ravel's Bolero.
she stood back from the barrier, talking to her entourage, but
she could see people gathering and obviously looking to her,
and approached when sh saw us wave, saying she did remember
us from Joe's Pub. It was here that I got my first good look
at Hayley, and her makeup artists did a tremendous job, for
there was no sign of tiredness anywhere about her face.
her hand and kissed her on the cheek, congratulating her on
another great performance, and then the people advanced, seeking
the signing of this or that. She signed my picture of the two
of us, after again calling for a felt-tip pen, and then the
items of others. In the discussions that followed I managed
to ask her about her next album, which she is scheduled to begin
in February. According to her, it is going to be a mix of things,
just like Pure was, which I think is good, though if she chose
to go all original I would be fine with that too. I also gave
her the three close-up pictures of her, telling her she could
parcel them out as she chose. Surprisingly, some folks there
called for her to sign them and pass them out on the spot, which
she cheerfully did with two of them, though she kept the last.
people behind the barrier was a man wearing an FDNY shirt, obviously
one of the heroes of September 11th, though whether he was there
or not I do not know. I called for Hayley to pose with "this
local hero" which she cheerfully did, and then it was Natasha's
turn to get her picture signed. Hayley wrote a personal message
in addition to signing, and then came out from behind the barrier
to pose with Natasha. We all snapped pictures, alas, that was
the end of my film, for then the two faced each other and Natasha
gave Hayley a big hug, which Hayley heartily returned, both
of them with big smiles for the other.
It was getting
late, but before I left, I said goodbye to Natasha, who also
gave me a big teddy bear hug, and to Alena, Josh, and Steve,
but not for very long, for Joe's pub will see us reunite, and
once more show our appreciation for Hayley, who brought us all
so much happiness.
I can only
say I hope Hayley got to sleep in on Friday, for she had certainly
earned it, doing two concerts thousands of miles apart AND meeting
and greeting voracious fans in both places with not one crack
in her kind disposition, despite very little sleep. If you read
this, Hayley, though you are certainly a world-class singer,
I think this shows you to also be a world-class person, and
if they gave medals for generous hearts, your actions here would
certainly have earned you one.
Yahoo! Groups Links
visit the HWI group on the web, go to:
use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to: