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Hayley delights a sell-out

SKELMANTHORPE'S annual celebrity concert featuring Hayley Westenra - star of the middle-of-the-road circuit with mega album sales to her 18 year-old name - delighted its sold-out audience.

The Band were in the safe and experienced hands of guest conductor Stan Lippeat, a former flugel player with Grimethorpe Colliery, and their hugely entertaining guest compere from over Oldham way was former Brighouse and Rastrick man Gilbert Symes.

They are bright-toned but underpinned by beefy trombones and basses, and they rattled through several styles ranging from Richard Strauss' Fest Musik der Stadt Wien to swing numbers.

Their most stylistically varied number was the Nightmare and Victory from Cry of the Celts that included the Shaker hymn, a couple of reels and a march tune with a flavour of the 19th century military about it - strange how `Celtishness' is spuriously claimed these days for so much middle-of-the-road and film music!

Hayley Westenra - tall, willowy and winning - delivered a mix of Maori and transatlantic folky material plus Handel's Lascia Ch'io Pianga and Orff's In Tutina.

Some numbers were accompanied by the Band and some by pre-recorded backing.

Although heavily miked, her concert-hall tone is less juicy than that conjured up by her CD engineers. She clips and swallows many shorter notes and her upper register lacks firm support.

When her voice settles in a few years time - if she is still singing then - she may well turn out to be a mezzo and not a soprano at all.

Credits : Jon Vosloo
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