Didn't manage to work out from that which days or dates Hayley might be appearing. I'm hungry for a Hayley concert (the last one is starting to wear off and I want another), and there should be some surrounding the release of the new superalbum.
Kings Lynn. Yes, I'll do it if I'm not on holiday somewhere else.
She's an international recording artist with worldwide sales. A modern day Forces Sweetheart and she regularly sings to massive crowds, but Hayley Westenra tells Places&Faces® why a return to Norfolk and a smaller venue is so attractive.
For someone who has performed to an audience of 10,000 at the World Games in Taiwan, sung to vast crowds at rugby stadiums and to millions watching her on TV from the Royal Albert Hall, New Zealand soprano Hayley Westenra says she's really looking forward to her summer concert at the Corn Exchange in King's Lynn - a concert hall with a relatively modest 733 seats.
The 23 year-old is one of the stars of the 61st King's Lynn Festival where she will appear with backing musicians on Sunday, July 24th. 'I quite like that size venue, I like that intimacy' she told Places&Faces®. Audience reactions differ from country to country, and the number in the crowd is also a big factor. 'In Taiwan it was ten thousand; a stadium is different. I just respond to that. But I'm generally more relaxed in a smaller venue.'
Hayley also enjoys the opportunity to discover new places: 'I'm based in London and I do spend a lot of time on tour. There are little spots waiting to be explored.' King's Lynn with its historic buildings, including the Corn Exchange, should fit the bill. Her last visit to the county was around six years ago when she took part in a BBC Songs of Praise Easter recording at Norwich Cathedral.
'As a New Zealander I really appreciate those ancient buildings you have scattered about. They are so good and so awe-inspiring and, as an added bonus, the acoustics are superb.' She's recently completed a tour of Christmas music around British cathedrals. 'The only downside is that they are sometimes freezing cold and they are not great dressing rooms – but really it is just a wonderful night in these priceless venues.'
All of this has added poignancy since we speak only days after the devastating earthquake which hit Hayley's home of Christchurch and sent its cathedral spire crashing down. She only just missed it, having returned from a trip home three days before the disaster occurred. Her family live in one of the suburbs which escaped most of the damage and her father, who worked in the city centre, was also unharmed. But she admitted it was traumatic to see what had happened.
When we spoke she was about to sing the national anthem at a special memorial service at London's Westminster Cathedral. 'We will be bringing everyone together over here, we want to support the Kiwis back home.' She is also planning a QuakeAid concert back home in the summer, after her visit to King's Lynn. 'There's a lot of rebuilding needed; emotionally too' said the singer and songwriter who has cancelled a tour to concentrate on the fund-raising.
Christchurch means so much to her and was home until the age of 15 and her début album. 'I made the most of the city. I used to go busking in the streets which helped me a lot, though I didn't realise it at the time. The busking paid for my demo CD, Walking in the Air.' It was this first studio album which attracted attention. But we're jumping ahead a bit.
'I loved to sing around the house. Mum and Dad didn't pay my singing too much attention. A teacher at school gave me a solo in a Christmas play when I was six. I was also encouraged to play an instrument. A friend of mine recommended auditioning for The Sound of Music. I must have realised that I had a voice.' She appeared in around 40 musicals.
'I was quite a shy child but it gave me confidence. Big crowds didn't bother me on stage. I loved to sing and hear people applaud. As you get older you realise how lucky you are to be given these opportunities. I always dreamt about singing to large crowds.' That was a dream which came true, not least performing the New Zealand national anthem at All Blacks rugby games: 'My rugby team, that's a great honour.'
She's also greatly in demand for duets which has led to her teaming up with people she describes as her heroes – José Carreras, Bryn Terfel and Andrea Bocelli, as well as touring with Il Divo.
Her charity work takes in being the youngest-ever Unicef ambassador, where her projects have included Bikes for Ghana, and supporting the British Armed Forces. She's entertained troops. 'I've been to Iraq, doing my bit wherever I can, especially supporting families back here in the UK, it's very tough on them too.' She even launched the British Legion Poppy Appeal live from Basra. 'If you are in a position to give something back then you want to.'
Hayley works alongside Dame Vera Lynn and is also vice-president of the trust the veteran singer runs for parents with children who have cerebral palsy. And she is a regular performer at the annual Festival of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall. 'It's always a very moving service. Having been out to Iraq and met servicemen I have been given an insight into their work. It's a heartfelt service, the emotion is raw for everyone. The war widows coming in, I can't imagine what it's like for them.'
'Singing isn't a career, it's really a wonderful life' she says. She was still only 16 when she released her debut international CD, Pure. It rapidly became the fastest-selling first album from a classical artist, and reached the Top 10 of the pop charts in 11 countries. Her albums have sold more than four million copies worldwide to date.
Now comes the latest, due out later in the year, which sees Hayley working with and performing the music of film score legend, Ennio Morricone. His work is wide-ranging and sees him collaborating with lyricists Don Black and Sir Tim Rice. She's promising to preview a couple of the tracks at King's Lynn.
'It was incredible working with him, working in Rome with his team. It's all pretty exciting, he's 82 and I didn't expect him to be so personally involved but his passion for music is really inspiring.'
Hayley remains touchingly star-struck and modest about it: 'I couldn't believe that he wanted to work with someone like me – a girl from Christchurch. He really is a musical genius. I thought “Wow, this is my album.”'
This summer’s King’s Lynn Festival runs from Sunday July 17 until Saturday July 30. It will be a truly international event – as well as Hayley Westenra from New Zealand other world-famous names will include the Czech National Symphony Orchestra with charismatic conductor Libor Pesek, Singapore-born pianist Melvyn Tan, 18th century Italian music specialists La Serenissima and the Vienna Mozart Trio.
British favourites include violin virtuoso Tasmin Little, jazz singer Clare Teal and The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain.
Events will be staged in some of the town’s beautiful historic buildings including St George’s Guildhall, St Nicholas’ Chapel, St Margaret’s Church and the Town Hall Assembly Room.
The brochure will be available in mid-May when the box office will open on 01553-764864. For information about priority booking call the festival office on 01553-767557 or visit www.kingslynnfestival.org.uk
Thank you for the article...I love that picture..another from her album photoshoot I presume? I wish I lived closer to Kings Lynn!!...I'll be even further away I think by the time of this concert (my geography isn't too good :-[) I'll be in Southampton
“The only time success occurs before work is in the dictionary." "Embrace the thing that makes you, you. Embrace the thing that makes you unique, work as hard as possible and be nice to people." Josh Groban Life is 10% of what happens to you and 90% of how you respond to it
A few days ago I went into the Box Office at the Corn Exchange and asked about when tickets would be available. The lady on the desk said it would be 9 a.m on Monday 23rd May and advised people to ring because they would not necessarily be on sale online straight away.