Hayley Westenra Live from New Zealand

by | Jun 2, 2005 | DVD & Blu-ray Video Reviews | 0 comments

Hayley Westenra Live from New Zealand (2004)

Hayley Westenra, vocals; featuring Teddy Tahu Rhodes, the Musical
Island Boys, Elim Gospel Choir, Wellington Cathedral Choir, Te Orowai
Maori Dance Group, Members of the Wellington Sinfonia.
Studio: Decca/Universal Music
Video: 16:9 anamorphic widescreen
Audio: DD 5.1 surround, PCM 2.0 stereo
Extras: Hayley Westenra biographical documentary (29 minutes); New
Zealand documentary (11 minutes); Pokarekare Ana music video; I Dreamed
a Dream (concert performance); Picture Gallery; Memorabilia Slideshow.
Length: 70 minutes
Rating: *****

Hayley Westenra, who was only seventeen at the time this concert was
filmed last year, is a huge star in her native New Zealand and
Australia, but doesn’t garner much name recognition here in the states.
This excellent video should give her the kind of exposure she needs to
make her a major star the world over. If you are unfamiliar with Ms.
Westenra, it might be a good idea to watch the excellent short
documentary included here to get some background into her humble
beginnings as a street busker in Wellington, New Zealand. Classically
trained in voice and violin, she soon noticed that many more people
gathered about when she sang as opposed to when she played, so she soon
shifted her emphasis to singing. In no time at all, word from tourists
and locals clamoring for a CD got out, and she was soon signed to a
major label.

Although comparisons to Charlotte Church have been made, I feel they
are a bit unfair; Hayley Westenra has a much greater range vocally and
stylistically (no slight intended, Charlotte), and one look at this
superb DVD should easily bear that out. Ms. Westenra is quite at ease
in classical and operatic repertory, as well as music from film and
showtunes, and had no problems belting out pop selections – her version
of Kate Bush’s Wuthering Heights just knocked me out! She handles
herself on stage with a poise and grace that belies her seventeen
years.

The video quality is excellent; the 16:9 anamorphic widescreen looked
really great on my InFocus projector’s 108″ screen. The staging of the
event is really superb, and the interior shots of Wellington’s
beautiful St. James Theatre only offers more of an incentive to save
for that trip to New Zealand. Sound quality is also superb, whether in
5.1 or stereo, and shows off her voice – and those of the many groups
backing her up – to maximum effect. The many included extras make this
disc the total package – easily 5 stars, and one of the best music
videos I’ve seen this year!

Tracks: Pokarekare Ana; River of Dreams; In Trutina (from Carmina
Burana); Across the Universe of Time; May It Be (from The Fellowship of
the Ring); Beat of Your Heart; Aria (Cantilena); Who Painted the Moon
Black?; How Many Stars?; Ave Maria; Down to the River; Amazing Grace;
Benedictus; Mary Did You Know?; Both Sides Now; Never Say Goodbye;
Wuthering Heights; Hine e Hine.

— Tom Gibbs
 

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