"I have grown out of nerves a little bit but, I do still get nervous before a big performance but to be honest I think it's only natural and I would be more worried if I didn't get scared at all.
"Another thing that comes with age is appreciating what you've achieved. When I was younger I used to take my career in my stride but now I really do appreciate all my successes because I am so lucky I get to do something I love every day.
"I try not to spread myself too thinly but helping out charities is something that is really important to me and although it sounds cheesy I really like to use my voice to do some good."
"I still get star struck when meeting celebrities but I think I get that from my mum. When I told her I was going to be recording a song with Ronan Keating she was beside herself, she's his biggest fan.
"Meeting Dame Vera was also a proud moment for me because she's so recognisable and such a great character.
"The good thing is my family always keep me grounded, whenever I go back to New Zealand my younger brother and sister are always there to bring me back down to earth with a bump."
New Zealand Soprano and all round wonderful human being Hayley Westenra has decided to warm our chilled hearts this Xmas with her 'Winter Magic' UK Tour. Set in Tewkesbury Abbey, which should bring extra atmosphere to an already exciting experience. With able support from Classical quartet 'Raven',
A Surprise for Elizabeth Left home later than usual as Elizabeth is unable to get away before 1.45pm but we had a very good run down to Tewkesbury and arrived a little after 3.30 and parked a few hundred yards from the Abbey. Because of our anticipated later arrival, Elizabeth had prepared a delicious picnic which we sat in the car to eat.
Replete, we made our way to the Abbey to see what, if anything was happening. No sooner had we walked onto the long drive, our ears were met with “Veni Veni Emanuel” coming from within. “Is the Abbey open?” I enquired of the only person around who confirmed that it was. We crept in and settled ourselves on the second row, being spotted immediately by Hayley who gave us a little wave despite being in the middle of a song.
Now, we are used to the possibility of sitting in for the sound check but not Elizabeth. This was something very new for her and she was very excited by it and sat enthralled as Hayley worked to get the sound balance right. By the time the sound check ended at 5pm we were pretty much the only ‘visitors’ left in the Abbey so, with a quick wave and “See you later” from Hayley, we made our way outside ready to be let back in when the time came.
We hadn’t been there many minutes when Hayley and the others came out for something to eat and Hayley stopped for a quick chat. For a while then, we were on our own with just the Abbey’s verger for company although but we were soon joined by others. The first couple to arrive being the same pair that I had stood with four years ago and we recognised each other!
It was a little after 6.30 when we were eventually allowed in and quickly made our way to the front securing second row isle seats with an excellent view of the stage area. Although there had apparently still been tickets for this concert available yesterday, it seemed pretty full by the time the lights went down and the concert began. Tonight, the concert opened with the Tewkesbury Youth Choir comprising mostly very young children although they were excellent and sang without books.
The first half of the concert followed the now familiar pattern but with superior acoustics which Hayley seemed to relish. The only other difference being that, due to the relatively small stage area, Raven came and performed in front of the stage with several of the girls serenading the first couple of rows. Again Hayley joined the choir for The Coventry Carol and sang unmiked
Oh No! Not Again! The loud ringing of bells signified the end of the interval and people began retaking their seats. It’s feeling quite cold in the Abbey now and most people still have their coats on. Raven took up their places in front of the stage and opened the second half of the concert. Everything was going fine until the part in the Godfather Theme where the girls pluck their strings. Poor Rachel! Her first pluck was followed by a twang as the string gave way and silence fell. Apologetically and with a round of good natured applause, they left the stage to repair the damage.
Hayley found herself unexpectedly early back on stage enquiring “Not Rachel again? Goodness me” with a giggle and took her place at the keyboard to introduce “River”. Well, the gremlins now chose Hayley as their target as she proceeded to play wearing her platform heels. This time, Hayley managed to push away the free standing pedal block and couldn’t retrieve it with her heels in place. A member of the audience on the front row came to her aid before the stage hand got to her and she started the piece again in her stocking feet.
Thankfully that was the end of the problems but it was all taken in good spirit and Raven came back to finish their set after Hayley’s “O Holy Night” which has settled itself as a definite highlight of this tour set.
Hayley, now back on stage, collected her ‘sleigh bells’ with a giggle and explaining that she was finding it difficult to remember to shake them in the right place. At the end of the song she asked “How did I do?” and I replied with “You did just fine!” to which she responded that I’d heard her play them several times already. Nice one Hayley!
All too soon the concert came to a close but we did get both encores again which was particularly nice – I love Hayley’s arrangement of “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas”. Next stop, a signing session!