A
 
Web www.artsmart.co.za
A R T S M A R T
arts news from kwazulu-natal

miscellaneous news
www.artsmart.co.za
enquiries@artsmart.co.za
 A current news
crafts - dance - drama - film & tv - literature
music - supper theatre - visual arts
miscellaneous news - festivals
letters to the editor
home page
archives A
crafts - dance - drama - film & tv - literature
music - supper theatre - visual arts
miscellaneous news - festivals
 

NB: as of 23 September 2008, all new artSMart articles are being published on the site news.artsmart.co.za.

MUSINGS OF A MEANDERING MIND #37 (article first published : 2007-09-24)

Dare I hope that an e-mail I sent to SABC3 some time last year might possibly have something to do with the fact we’re suddenly getting a whole bunch of wonderful music programmes on a regular basis? For they’ve certainly upped their game with the introduction of the (poorly advertised, I might add) 10 pm music slot on a Sunday evening.

However, since there’s no advance notice (not that I’ve detected, anyway) as to just who the featured artist is going to be – unless you’re lucky enough to pick up a mention by the continuity announcer on duty that day – it’s a bit of a hit-and-miss venture as to whether it’s going to be worth tuning in for. Mid-month we were treated to a truly wonderful hour featuring Katherine Jenkins, the talented and beautiful - not to mention humble and philanthropic - Welsh mezzo-soprano (who I raved about at the beginning of this year), when luckily I actually did catch a mention of this upcoming treat, and thus was able to watch and also to videotape it to add to my private collection – also ringing my neighbours and certain family members and friends to watch out for it, all of whom thanked me profusely, it was THAT good.

There have been one or two mediocre ones in between, however, the most recent I caught being a sort of music documentary on the life and work of Kenny Rogers, still in fine voice but looking his years now. Hats off again, though, to SABC3 for another enormous treat on Women’s Day (celebrated on August 9 in South Africa) for a one-hour concert featuring the group known as Celtic Woman, whose numbers have been expanded by the addition of young Hayley Westenra, born in New Zealand but claiming both Welsh and Irish ancestry.

She is a perfect fit, not only her voice but her looks blending in so well with the other young women (namely Chloe Agnew, Orla Fallon, Lisa Kelly, Mairead Nesbitt and Meav Ni Mhaolchatha), all of whom are blessed with voices like angels, and looks to match! Their latest release is an album titled A New Journey, and I was delighted to discover that Brendan Graham (who writes lyrics for the group known as Secret Garden) is responsible for the words in the haunting The Voice, sung by Lisa, and has co-written, with David Downes (responsible for production and orchestration of the album) the stirring piece that features all the girls, namely The Sky and the Dawn and the Sun. But there’s not a single disappointment in the entire collection, I can assure you, featuring as it does one or two favourite oldies interspersed between some rich new treasures.

Ironically, I’ve only recently managed to get my hands on Hayley Westenra’s first album, the perfectly-titled Pure, her record-breaking 2003 collection marking her international debut (recorded when she was 15), and I have to admit that, though her more recently-released Odyssey CD is among my personal top-ten-favourites in my own collection, the tracks on Pure are just so beautifully rendered (certainly living up to the title!) that I think I must have played it a dozen times a week the first month I got it home – and I’d be very hard-pressed to name a single track that is better than the one either before or after it!

Who Painted the Moon Black? is probably the most well-known, and there have been several covers (though none so fine as the original, in my humble view) but I think, if pressed, I’d count The Beat of My Heart right up there, along with My Heart and I, although I have another very fine version of that number in my collection by Giorgia Fumanti.

Hayley was first discovered to have perfect pitch when starring in a school play at the age of six, and spent her entire childhood immersed in music, studying violin, piano and ballet, having appeared in 40 amateur stage musicals in Christchurch by the time she’d completed her schooling. She also just happens to be the youngest-ever ambassador for UNICEF! In Japan she enjoyed a No. 1 single with Amazing Grace and was voted the most popular classical artist of 2004, winning two Japanese Grammies.

Such early success was life-transforming for this young songbird, going from being a schoolgirl living at home with her parents and siblings to appearing before presidents, prime ministers and royalty. She’s performed live at many prestigious sporting events around the world, singing relevant national anthems, and has duetted with the likes of Andrea Bocelli, José Carreras and Russell Watson, also appearing with the world’s leading orchestras, including The Royal Philharmonic, The Boston Pops and The Moscow Philharmonic. Touring the world and singing in some of its greatest concert venues has worked wonders for her confidence and, suitably emboldened, she has a huge range of musical styles in her repertoire by now, including classical pieces, hymns, as well as folk and pop. The various sonic strands are all unified in her distinctive vocal timbre and, whether backed by The Royal Philharmonic or accompanied solely by Giles Martin’s acoustic guitar, Hayley always sounds perfectly natural, with her intuitive talent that cannot be coached.

She opened her Odyssey album with a beautiful version of Prayer, a song written by Rolf Lovland and Fionnuala Sherry of Secret Garden, who are quoted as saying she added new life to this number, which they wrote for their album Dawn of a New Century. As I mentioned earlier, Brendan Graham is the wonderful lyricist who works with this group, and many people do not realize he was responsible for the beautiful lyrics to the number that made such a hit for Josh Groban (among others), You Raise Me Up, which was actually first performed at the funeral of footballer, George Best!

But back to Hayley and the other lovely lasses who now comprise the new team who call themselves Celtic Woman… I look forward to their next release (whenever that may be) and I live in hopes that SABC3 will continue to bring us musical treats of this calibre in time to come. (I asked, in my e-mail, for them to include the likes of Russell Watson, Mario Frangoulis and others… Now it’s a case of wait-and-see - or should that be watch-and-listen?) - Bev Pulé




 A current news
crafts - dance - drama - film & tv - literature
music - supper theatre - visual arts
miscellaneous news - festivals
letters to the editor
home page
archives A
crafts - dance - drama - film & tv - literature
music - supper theatre - visual arts
miscellaneous news - festivals
a co-production by caroline smart services and .durbanet. site credits
copyright © subsists in this page. all rights reserved. [ edit ] copyright details  artsmart