Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Christmas With Hayley Westenra

Last night, I was in the Ulster Hall for the first time. Surprising and shocking, I realise that, but very true. You see, I never made it to Mannafest; have never been to a concert in it, and even missed the access all areas Flickrmeet when it was recently refurbished.

The occasion was a Christmas concert with the RTE Concert Orchestra and Hayley Westenra, supposed to begin at 7.45pm, but the rehearsals ran on somewhat, leaving the doors to only be opened at 7.25pm or so. Thankfully we had arrived early and were queueing inside the foyer, but there were many more people out in the cold for a long time. Last minute rehearsals left us slightly nervous that things wouldn't be as good as we had hoped, but things turned all right on the night.

There was a good mixture of orchestral instrumentals and items from Miss Westenra, some new pieces (to me) and some well known festive favourites. The orchestra were tremendous, with a great sound, although my favourite musicians were the percussionists, with their tubular bells, xylophones, drums, jingle bells, and the two bits of wood banged together to make the sound of the whip in Sleigh Ride.

This was the second time in 2009 we saw Hayley Westenra - the last time being in Bangor Elim. The major difference was that she had a full orchestra this time, as opposed to just a piano in Bangor, and the performance was superior for that reason.

After a packed performance (which, even with the interval and the two encores lasted less than two hours), we went through the farce of her parading off stage, waiting, then coming back on to sing Love Came Down at Christmas, then parading off again, pausing, and coming back to rapturous applause to sing her final song, O Holy Night.

For me, the only disappointment was in not getting to join in with some carols - performances are good, but to be really Christmassy it's good to sing as well, but then I'll have my first carol service tomorrow to make up for that.

It's now off to Dublin for Hayley and the Orchestra to do it all over again tonight in the National Concert Hall, Dublin, and then she's flying home to New Zealand for Christmas holidays.

One of the highlights for me was the line she finished the whole concert on:
Christ is the Lord! O praise His Name forever,
His power and glory Evermore proclaim.
Amen Hayley, Amen.


  1. Sounds like a great concert, hope you enjoyed! Came across your blog earlier today, so figured I'd say hello :)

  2. Amen, Praise the Lord!

    ( you are welcomed to share your opinions in http://hayleywestenra.forums.umusic.co.uk/p/1283/9659.aspx#9659#9659 )