euphoria brought on by seeing Hayley Westenra in concert last
Wednesday night (August 4th) at Joe's Pub has scarcely worn
off, but it has subsided just enough for me to put together
a brief review.
arrived inside Joe's Pub at 6:45 p.m. and was greeted by several
familiar faces, including Steven Olivo, Alena & Josh and
Gary Scovil, all of whom were clearly excited about catching
Hayley one more time.Luckily, I was allowed to take a seat just
below center stage and had, arguably, the best sight-line in
the house. This close proximity had its drawbacks, which I shall
address later on, but I could not have been more thrilled when
I sat down, knowing I was perhaps in the most coveted seat in
violinist Fiona from Christchurch, New Zealand, got things rolling
with a flavourful solo piece she had played in the previous
concert last June with sparce accompaniment by pianist Ian,
from London, England.
to loud applause Hayley Westenra stepped up to the stage and
began her beguiling "Pokarekare Ana." Waiting until
after the first verse before joining in, Fiona and Ian provided
an unobtrusive accompaniment that perfectly meshed with Hayley's
phrasing. A warm round of applause sprung forth from the delighted
audience and brought a huge smile to Hayley's glowing face.
promptly thanked us and said how great it was to be back and
briefly talked about that song's origins. She said that New
York was like a second home to her since she'd been traveling
so much lately and added that she was going back to New Zealand
in a few days to tape a PBS Great Performances special.
she introduced her next song,"River of Dreams," mentioning
that it was based on Vivaldi's "Winter." Anyone who
was there will agree about this particular rendition: Hayley's
voice was simply ravishing from start to finish.
then gave credit to Giles and Sir George Martin for writing
and producing her next song -- announced in her delightful Kiwi
accent as "Beat of Your Hott." She started the song
just fine but fumbled the lyrics in the third line -- a minor
gaffe from which she instantly recovered. With more assertive
phrasing than I'd heard in her previous performance she went
on to make this one of the most memorable tunes of the night.
next song was one of her favourites, "Mary Did You Know?"
and was also an audience favourite, winning a substantial ovation
after the final word "Mary" trailed off.
first group of songs completed, Hayley then welcomed Katherine
Jenkins, a strikingly pretty mezzo-soprano from Wales, to the
stage. Straightaway Ms. Jenkins launched into Schubert's "Ave
Maria" in a voice so lovely it hurt. A lovelier version
of this I cannot recall. Cries of "Brava!" could be
heard amidst the roaring ovation she received.
charmed the crowd with a delightful tale of being a schoolteacher
in England a year ago and having four ambitions:
1. to sing at the Sydney Opera House (which she did last October)
2. to sing at the Royal Albert Hall (which she did in May)
3. to have a Number 1 album on the classical charts (it hit
4. to visit New York and sing at Joe's Pub!
to say, we were putty in her hands at that point.
then introduced her next offering with "Now I'm going to
sing for you a song where I'm going to be a naughty girl now,
and this is the 'Habanera' from 'Carmen.' In this song Carmen's
trying to seduce the men around her when she tells them, 'If
you don't love me, then I'll love you. And if I love you, watch
out!'" I sat there mesmerized as Katherine's majestic vocals
and sensual gestures made this aria a sultry and sassy tour
de force. A huge ovation followed. I can honestly say this was
the finest mezzo voice I'd ever heard in my life.
then, in one of the most bitter-sweet moments of my concertgoing
life, Katherine then announced that she was welcoming Hayley
back to the stage and departed from view. How I wished she could
have stayed for another aria.
a minute Hayley returned to the stage and sang the most soothing
number of the evening, "Who Painted the Moon Black."
It was like medicine for the soul and something I desperately
needed after missing Katherine so acutely.
she sang "Across the Universe of Time" in a voice
that was simply ravishing, followed by "In Trutina"
which was a study in tonal perfection.
welcomed Katherine back onstage for the "last" song
of the night which she dedicated to the Kiwis in attendance
-- a sublimely inspired duet of "Hine E Hine." Their
chemistry was superb, both vocally and visually. Perhaps the
longest and noisiest ovation of the night ensued, ensuring an
extraordinary encore of "Amazing Grace" by Hayley
done a cappella.
concert clocked in at just 45 minutes from start to finish.
Easily the best quarter hour my ears have ever experienced.
problem I mentioned earlier about being so close to the performers
stage is that there's an eery mix of the ordinary voice with
the amplified voice. You can hear them on two levels at once
and the unamplified Hayley is vastly superior to the Hayley
that comes through the sound system. My idea of musical ecstacy
would be to hear her perform at an acoustically optimal venue
without a mike so the incomparable beauty of her voice could
be heard directly.
Yahoo! Groups Links
visit the HWI group on the web, go to:
use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to: