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News from Hayley Westenra - www.hayleywestenra.com

Hey everyone!!

First of all, please allow me apologise for the severe lack of updates from me!! I won't even attempt an excuse! Now, where should I begin...

Well, right at this very minute, at 1.47pm on a typical New York 'manic Monday' (don't you just love The Bangles!) I'm sitting in my hotel room, in front of my laptop, in my pyjamas...and yes, I know, it IS nearly 2pm, but seeing as I didn't have to be up and out, I made sure I didn't! Plus I'd stayed up to indulge myself in a bit of Oscar glamour via the TV screen last night and then do a bit of catch-up emailing into the early hours. Just spoke to a couple of journalists over the phone and will soon head out to grab myself some food!

Well, for the last few days I have been in Ottawa, Canada, performing with the National Arts Centre Orchestra, with conductor Jack Everly -3 back-to-back shows. It was lovely to be back amongst some familiar faces (I was there 2 years ago for The Lord of The Rings Symphony shows) and to spend a decent amount of time in one city. The first half of the show was a lovely collection of 'old-school' (in my opinion!) orchestral numbers from around the world, hence the title of the show 'Around The World With Hayley Westenra'. My favourite was a Villa Lobos piece from Brazil (which I can't for the life of me remember the name of!) based on a train journey -it really sounded like a train! I then sang around 10 songs, making up the second half, including 'May It Be', 'Pokarekare Ana', 'O Mio Babbino Caro' and as my last song, a newly arranged (by Jack Everly) 'Amazing Grace' with a very climatic ending! On the 2nd and 3rd nights I included an acapella version of 'She Moves Through The Fair', which may seem an odd idea when you have a full orchestra up on stage with you, but I really enjoyed the change in atmosphere and I believe the crowd did too. I like to have variety in my shows! Singing acapella, with no backing music, gives you a lot of freedom and allows you to just follow your heart and take musical liberties you wouldn't usually be able to take if you had someone (or a whole orchestra!) following you. It's a very enjoyable way of singing! Well, for me anyway!

Last time I was in Ottawa, it was summer I think, so it was quite a different experience this time round facing a brutal minus 15 degrees celcius (or something along those lines...once you're below freezing, it's hard to pinpoint!). So yes, it was cold, BUT I did have the opportunity to go ice skating on the canal!! Before I left on the Sunday morning, following the last show, I bit the bullet and hired myself some skates! Ok, so I didn't really skate (it was more of a shuffle!) but I still had a blast! I had been skating before, but only on a smooth indoor ice skating rink...this rink required much more skill, yet everyone else made it look so easy!! What is the secret?? I never found out, but I did manage to grab myself a 'beaver tail' before I left -a very sugary and indulgent delicacy! I had to try it, it was my duty as 'tourist' for the day! Here are some pics (minus the ones with me on the ground!) kindly taken by my tour manager Ali...

I was waiting for my prince charming to come along and save me from humiliation (you know, like they do in the movies)...he never came...

I can't skate, but I can pose!!

Indulging my sweet tooth in the Canadian tradition!

Now, before this Ottawa trip, I was touring with the fantastic Il Divo on the American leg of their world tour. This part of the tour lasted about a month -but really did fly by. I had such a ball performing in front of some huge and truly wonderful crowds! I also had a fantastic band backing me who really knew what they were doing and gave me the freedom to have fun on stage! Thanks guys!! The first show was in Wallingford, Conneticut, and having just arrived in the US two days prior, with one day to rehearse with my new band in New York, and having never met the 'Il Divo' guys before, you can imagine, I was a little apprehensive...but bursting with excitement. My set went pretty well I thought, considering it was the first night, although looking back now it's all a blur!

Backstage with Il Divo

I have to say, the ID guys were all very welcoming (and very charming!); I have really enjoyed working alongside them over the past month. As my band and I are travelling on a different schedule to them, both of us with varying commitments, 'socialising' time is usually brief, but always enjoyable. Anyway, congrats to them all for a fantastic tour so far!

My band, on the other hand, has had to put up with my girliness and all my other annoying quirks 24/7! We've shared some wonderful, interesting and a few not-so-interesting experiences on our travels...including a marathon trip from Detroit to Chicago where our flight (directly after the show) was 'postponed' until 9am or something due to harsh weather conditions and with a TV performance the following morning in Chicago, we had no other choice but to drive through the night...and the blizzard...arriving in time to squeeze in 3hrs sleep before my TV appearance and then leaving me a couple of hours to rest (I can't sleep during the day) before the show! Whew. But we got through it!

from left to right: Rick (our tech guy), Askold, Robert, Jeff, Dave, Ali (our tour manager) and me!
Enjoying our evening meal having just come off stage!

Up on stage, I know we all had a blast. It was a new combination of instruments for me -drums (Dave Halpern), guitar (electric and acoustic)(Askold Buk), bass (Robert Greenfield) and piano (Jeff Franzel) -but looking at the size of the venues I would be playing, we needed that drive...the drums! One of my favourite songs that I performed in my set was the song 'The Mummers Dance' which I'd really only performed live for the first time in January on my New Zealand tour. It was written by the fantastic Loreena McKennitt whom I admire greatly. I also performed the song 'Never Saw Blue' -from my album 'Odyssey' -with the writer of the song and also my Musical Director, Jeff Franzel, on piano. We got such warm receptions from the audiences (many standing ovations too -yeah!) that I can't wait to come back and do my own tour!

Now, let's go back to my New Zealand tour in January which preceded the ID tour. All I can say is, it was so nice to back on my home soil and have the opportunity to sing for and meet up with the people who have supported me right from the very beginning. A big thank you to all for your continued support.

And briefly, my NZ holiday -well, it went way too quickly. Coming back home and being back amongst the people that know you best is so grounding and comforting. I miss you all!! Although hopefully I'll be seeing you soon Sophie?! Right??! ;)

I could keep rambling on, but I had better sign off, as time is ticking on (and my tummy's rumbling!).

Take care all of you!!

Lots of love,

source : decca
credits : hw.com
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