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Hayley at Canterbury Cathedral

Canterbury - Friday 27th October

Hayley WestenraAs expected, there was a very good turnout from HWI to see Hayley's concert in Canterbury Cathedral. I spent the afternoon exploring the Cathedral, so I was able to say a quick hello to Hayley when she arrived at 3pm. A few minutes later Grant appeared, followed closely by Tim who had flown all the way from Pennsylvania specially for the concert. We sat quietly and listened while Hayley rehearsed with her musicians, pianist Al Gurr and violinist Fiona Swadling. She was clearly in very good voice.

We then went our separate ways for a while, and met up again outside the Cathedral at about 5:45, where we were joined by Peter, Steve and Stuart, Elizabeth with her friends Emily and Michelle from Canada, and George. While we were waiting, Steve Abbott introduced us to Joseph McManners and his mum, who live in Canterbury. I think he was looking for a pair of spare tickets for them, because the concert was a sell-out. Roger and Dave arrived soon after the doors opened at 7pm, so we met them inside.

After a short greeting and a prayer, Fiona and Al took up their positions on stage, then Hayley appeared to very warm applause from the audience of 2,200. She was wearing a gorgeous black dress with sparkling diamonds, and she looked stunning. She opened with Caccini's 'Ave Maria', which sounded better than ever in the magnificent setting of the Cathedral. She followed this with a beautiful version of 'Scarborough Fair', and finished her first short set with 'The Water Is Wide'.

There was rather too much echo in the sound, which made it difficult to hear what she was saying between the songs. This became even more pronounced when she introduced her special guest, operatic tenor Alfie Boe. He sang three arias, but all I can tell you about them is that the second one was from Puccini's 'Gianni Schicchi'.

Hayley then returned and sang, very appropriately, 'Prayer'. She followed with 'Both Sides Now' and concluded the first half with 'I Say Grace', and it was the first time I had heard her sing this song live. In spite of the sound problems, Hayley's singing was magnificent!

The engineers made some adjustments during the interval, and the sound was clearly much better when Alfie Boe opened the second half with two more arias. He certainly has a fine voice with a very wide range, so at times he could almost pass for a baritone. He certainly made a very good impression with the audience.

Hayley returned to sing 'The Mists Of Islay' and 'Bridal Ballad', and she really hit the high notes in both songs. Then Alfie Boe joined her and they sang a beautiful duet of Schubert's 'Ave Maria'. Hayley then gave us 'May It Be', 'In Trutina' and the Maori lullaby 'Hine E Hine'. Finally she sang 'Pokarekare Ana' as an encore, to end another world-class performance.

We stayed behind after the show, when we met up with Drew, Tony and Anne. We had to wait for a while while Hayley went to a small reception, but eventually she returned and we all had a lovely chat with her, and many photographs were taken. It was a very enjoyable evening, so I must thank Hayley, Alfie, Fiona, Al and all the members of HWI for making it yet another truly memorable experience.

Best Wishes,

Richard 8-)

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source : hwi
credits : review by andrew fenning
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