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March 20th 2005 < you are here
Hayley Westenra: Classicallive - Olympia

The exhibition was most impressive with all sorts of musical instruments on display, all of which could be tried out by anyone who thought they had the ability and some who definitely didn't !!

I hadn't had the opportunity to meet anyone from HWI before Sunday and was looking forward to it immensely, but with some trepidation. I needn't have worried as I was made very welcome. What a great bunch you all are! I immediately felt that I was amongst a group of good friends.

We were standing chatting near the main entrance of Olympia and someone spotted Hayley and Jill arriving. Wanting to ensure that we were going to have the opportunity to talk to Hayley after the event I went to meet them and request an audience later in the day. Would you believe Security wouldn't let them in as they didn't have tickets!! Fortunately, Hayley made a short telephone call and someone came to collect her and usher her past the bemused security men!

Hayley did a signing session at a stand, which was selling lots of copies of the latest version of "Pure". As it had the video of Pokarekare Ana as the final track, I just had to have it!!

Eventually the magical time of 16.10 arrived and, courtesy of Keith and Gisele, Hayley's assistant manager, we were whisked into the concert hall and given front row seats before the rest of the eager audience were allowed in. Hayley explained to the audience how a track from an album can be adapted for a live show and then answered questions from the audience mainly about her healthcare and voicecare routines. She drinks lots of water and takes vitamin c and a multivitamin daily, and doesn't use her voice, even to speak, until late in the morning !!

Hayley then gave an immaculate performance of several songs including her favourites, and mine, Pokarekare Ana and Hine e Hine. She also sang Bridal Ballad from The Merchant of Venice and In Trutina when she hit that amazing final note without effort. Ave Maria was also sung with it's amazing clarity, pure perfection !

The usual clamour of fans, old and new then queued for the chance to get something, anything, signed and have a few words with Hayley. Lots of people had the chance to have their photo's taken with Hayley, the look on some of the children's faces was a joy to behold.

Eventually, while being ushered further and further towards the door, our moment came to spend some time with Hayley. To my great surprise and delight Keith asked me to present our gift to Hayley, what an honour! I approached Hayley and was welcomed by her big smile, which helped me enormously. With the bag of goodies concealed cunningly behind my back I explained that I had the great honour to be representing Hayley Westenra International and that we were aware of her impending 18th birthday on the 10th April. I told her that we wanted to mark the occasion by collecting together to buy her a present. Hayley looked amazed and even more surprised when I finally revealed the silver bag from behind my back. Hayley was very pleased and said to thank everyone for such a lovely surprise. I told her that we did it because we all love her music and love her to bits! I told her that I was going to say that it was "our gift to you" but I thought that phrase had already been used, to which she replied "yes, I think it has"!! There followed a barrage of flashes from everyone's cameras. Hayley said "Gosh, all these flashes" and I said that it must almost be like being famous, which she giggled about as she agreed.

After a few more minutes during which we were still being hassled by security Hayley eventually left us. I overheard someone offering to carry the present for her to which she replied "No, it's ok, I'll carry this"! And then she was gone, leaving us with the memories of a wonderful day.

I would like to thank everyone who made donations and sent their good wishes for Hayley. I would like to say thank you to everyone on the day for making myself and Megan so welcome and above all for giving me the honour and immense pleasure of being able to give our presents to Hayley.

Sunday will stay with me for the rest of my life!

My very best wishes to you all.


Review by Barrie Ward

21st March 2005

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