And it appears that Hayley actually sang White Christmas after Te Haranui, not Have Yourself. I loved hearing her singing it, but I did really enjoy her performances of Have Yourself; hers is the only one I really like. Otherwise the song bores me, but her version is not boring at all!
I uploaded the videos I took (I only recorded two songs towards the end.) Slightly different angle from Tim. Not the best quality--I should have brought my DSLR, but I thought for sure that I wouldn't be able to use it.
Here are the links (YouTube is still editing so one is still sideways):
I can see a few people have some very good additions from Friday night. I was there also, though I largely kept quiet about it beforehand. I'm not certain how much of a personal touch I should add here, but the Golden Hat Foundation is for a cause near to me, since I actually overcame an autism-spectrum disorder and became an attorney.
Be that as it may, I wasn't planning to spend the initial huge amount they wanted for the meet and greet, but when they dropped the price to something most folks could handle, I jumped at it. I actually took the day off and viewed the famous Christmas windows of the various stores along 5th Avenue, before bumping into Tim and later Mary and her husband near the stage door. That didn't yield anything, though, so I headed to grab a present for Hayley from an unlikely location.
After dinner with some other friends, mostly Celtic Woman transplants, and introductions to Katie and a few other people, it was concert time, and it did not disappoint, nothing in Carnegie Hall, the supreme acoustic space, ever does, especially not from a box seat with a birds-eye view.
The orchestra, 90+ players, took the stage, and then composer Tim Janis, a relatively young-looking man (from York, Maine it turns out), took the stage and gave a brief address welcoming everyone and thanking them for contributing to this worthy cause. He then took his place at the piano and the program began with three of his crossover-type pieces "A Mother's Courage," "Angelic Evening," and "White Mountains." He was joined by Amy Petty on penny whistle for the first of these, and Japanese flute player Yoko Owada for the second, who also addressed the audience and did her best to wish everyone blessed holidays, despite the fact that she was not 100% fluent in English.
Canadian singer/harpist Loreena McKennett was next, with her own compositions "Snow," "The Lady of Shalott (based on the Walter Scott poem)" and "The Old Ways," the last of which made use of the whole ensemble and is a very "big" piece.
Andrea Corr, who some of you might know from her days with her siblings as "The Corrs" or her solo career was after that. Despite recently having a baby she looked more than beautiful in her short black dress and VERY high black heels, and wowed with Lou Reed's "Pale Blue Eyes," her own composition "Shame on You," and Donna Summer's "State of Independence."
At that point things broke for an address by the founders of Golden Hat - Margret Ericsdottir, mom to an autistic, non-verbal son, and actress Kate Winslet, so touched from filming a story based on Margret's that she helped found this charity. Margret's story was uplifting rather than heartbreaking, though, as she told how her son, misdiagnosed initially as retarded, was later found to be able to communicate by pointing to letters on a tablet, and later wrote a poem about a golden hat, hence the name of the foundation.
Kate Winslet read an essay by Margret's son (he is 14 now and able to write like a neurotypical person) advocating but not pleading for people to work with autistic people. You could hear a pin drop afterward.
The Sleepy Mountain Banjo Boys, a kid country ensemble of fiddle, guitar, and banjo, followed, and got the loudest cheer of the evening, not for being cute, but for their rousing country music, which included a version of "Jingle Bells" in a nod to the season. After another country song by Dawn Kenney and Amy Petty's version of the Ave Maria, it was time for what everyone here is most interested in, I think: Hayley.
She wore a short purple dress and INCREDIBLY high crimson heels that made her tower over everyone. After greeting the crowd and a few remarks, she began with "Whispers in a Dream" sung to the same tune as, but less saccharine than, "Nella Fantasia." She then said the next piece would be just her and her music director (whose name I think was Tim Hart), and gave us a bonus (not in the printed program) "Both Sides Now" about which little need be said.
After that she addressed the audience and mentioned that of course Christmas comes in the summer in NZ, so she thought she would give us a NZ carol that reflected this. That song was a beautiful lyrical Maori piece called "Te Harinui," based on Rev. Samuel Marsden's preaching of the gospel on Christmas 1814 at the Bay of Islands, and featuring the words "Not on on a snowy night, by star or candle light, nor by an angel band, there came to our dear land Te Harinui, tidings of great joy." She led into a version of "White Christmas," for which she received loud (and deserved) applause.
Sarah McLachlan, the "name" of the evening, who needs no introduction, came on after that, and did two songs, her own "River," and "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas."
The final portion of the show represented, I think, Hayley's toughest challenge of the evening, as a large choir, 200+ voices took the stage, and were joined by Jana Mashonee, a stunning (deep tan, flowing black hair, white dress that looked perfect with both) Native American gospel singer, who wowed the crowd with the rousing (and topical, in the wake of Sandy) song "The Storm is Passing Over," which led to clapping along and shouting from the audience. Could Hayley, who was listed to sing "Amazing Grace" after this tour-de-force, top it?
Yes, she could, she stepped up without a trace of nervousness and gave a perfect reading of the abolitionist hymn she has made her own, backed by the chorus, and when she reached the end, she got just as much applause if not more than Jana.
Sarah returned and sang "Silen Night," then all the performers (but with Hayley's voise soaring the highest) performed "O Holy Night," to finish out the evening.
I made a beeline for the Rohatyn Room, VIP pass in hand, but no one bothered to check tickets. I said a quick hello to Kate Winslet who was rushing around trying to get a photo op with the performer set up, but she didn't stick around for too long.
Now, to what everyone here wants, I think: the pictures.
Hayley on stage
Hayley in "O Holy Night"
Hayley doing autographs. She was most generous with her time afterwards, and did like her present - a t-shirt from the nearby Engine 8/Ladder 2/Battalion 8 of the FDNY, one of the houses hardest hit by September 11th.