Kiri and Susan–Kirioke v Karaoke

May 23, 2010

 “Let’s get off that subject, move on. I’m doing something classical, not whizz-bang. Whizz-bang disappears. It goes ‘whizz’ and then ‘bang’.” Kiri Te Kanawa

Boyle’s law states that for a fixed amount of an ideal gas kept at a fixed temperature, pressure and volume are inversely proportional.

Both the temperature and the volume started to rise during the recent Radio Times interview with Dame Kiri Te Kanawa*. The Kiwi-born Kiri was quizzed about Scottish-born Susan Boyle’s talent quest version of I Dreamed A Dream* from Les Misérables, which she also sings.

Perhaps she shouldn’t have been so misérable but it is easy to understand her chagrin as a consummate, trained professional being mentioned in the same breath as a self-taught amateur.

It was as if the Queen-at least HRH played by Helen Mirren-had been asked to comment on the royal qualities of Betty Driver as the nonagenarian barmaid Betty Williams in Coronation Street.

Dame Kiri, who is holding a competition on British station Radio 2 with qualified judges to discover new operatic talent, said that she loathed the frenzy which surrounds popular reality TV shows such as Britain’s Got Talent.

The show’s producers are certainly adept at creating a viewing feeding frenzy. The 2009 Susan Boyle item* was carefully stage managed down to the last bucket of mock astonishment from the stage crew and judges and cleverly manipulated and amplified in both the old and new media*. 

Different uploads of the same item have had a total of well over 150,000,000 views on YouTube so far and climbing, compared with 204,104 views for the Te Kanawa rendition*.

 Of course, the two have to be seen through quite different lenses-the professional and the amateur. Kiri developed her remarkable talents with the help of voice training by Sister Mary Leo.  She has built up a wide ranging and multilingual performance repertoire from the works of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Richard Strauss, Giuseppe Verdi, George Frideric Handel and Giacomo Puccini.

 Susan’s commendable DIY amateur efforts, with a hair brush standing in for a mike and her raw talent and passion for singing, have been on a different trajectory  outside the discipline of the opera or show stage, but many obviously enjoy the heart-warming  results, albeit in small doses.

 Kiri apparently doesn’t think much of Hayley Westenra either-nor of Andrea Bocelli* At an earlier interview she didn’t quite label the popular blind tenor Bantam of the Opera but she came pretty close.

Before she was well known and not long after she had been an occasional busker at the Arts Centre in Christchurch Hayley sang one of Andrea’s well-known recordings at our SmartNet 2000 event in Christchurch. This was more kiwioke than karoeke, with Hayley singing to a soundtrack, but it was a knock out, especially in the context within which it was sung.

 The theme song of the five annual two-day SmartNet workshops and Working SmartNet expos, held in the Christchurch  Convention Centre between 1997 and 2001, was the theme from “2001 A Space Odyssey” -Thus Spake Zarathustra. It played behind  the opening video sequence and theme for the year. In 2000, as the theme finished and before the official opening began, MC Jim Hopkins jumped off the stage, to be followed by the video cameras in the same kind of premeditated spontaneity as in the Susan Boyle item.

Jim then interviewed some young students who were helping to run SmartNet about their career plans after they finished university.  Virtually all of them talked about heading of overseas. Jim’s premeditated punchline, as Hayley Westenra came out from the wings singing the number made popular by Bocelli, was “if New Zealand companies don’t become more innovative, pick up on the skills of new graduates and use new technology, it will be Time to Say Goodbye to too many of our young people.”

 Since then, the export of young and growing poppies has continued apace with just a small dent in the last two years because of the global recession.

 A decade later Kiri and Susan are level pegging in Stuff’s Who would win in a fight? poll. It is absolutely great for amateurs to suddenly be given a ready made live, television and on-line audience  and maybe to even develop a new career of sorts. Good luck to them, but no one would seriously imagine that a democratic vote is an arbiter of musical standards.

Meanwhile, despite media reports to the contrary, Dame Kiri is not retiring. As the Radio Times interview demonstrated she’s neither the shy nor the retiring type and at age 66 she still has a lot to offer both via her own concert if not opera performances and via her work to nurture genuine new operatic talent.

It’s not time to say goodbye yet.

  #Lyall Lukey 23 May 2010 

http://www.lukey.co.nz/  http://www.smartnet.co.nz

      *BLINKS

Te Kanawa blasts Susan Boyle | Stuff.co.nz  

Video Clips:

Susan Boyle – Singer – Britains Got Talent 2009  93,102,839 views

Dame Kiri Te Kanawa – “I Dreamed a Dream” – “Les Misérable …  204,104 views

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WdxRmcgsKDQ&feature=related Hayley Westenra and Andrea Bocelli 7,483,066 views

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fZ90HZ_TDxI  Time to say goodbye  Hayley Westenra,  SmartNet 2000 

https://lukeytraining.wordpress.com/?s=Susan+Boyle  2009 blog post

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YngNR6y3URY  Lift off spoke Zarathustra

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ANZAC Day-We’ll Meet Again?

April 25, 2010

“We’ll meet again, don’t know where, don’t know when, But I know we’ll meet again, some sunny day.”  Ross Parker and Hughie Charles—as sung by Vera Lynn 

The poignant truth, remembered today on ANZAC day, is that too many didn’t meet again.

This morning I joined the huge crowd who turned out at the dawn service  in Cathedral Square, Christchurch  to remember fallen New Zealand servicemen and women and  to mark the 95th anniversary of the Anzac landings at Gallipoli.

After the ANZACs were landed on the wrong beach New Zealand lost 2,721 dead out of a total 130,784 dead on both sides at Gallipoli in what turned out to be a disastrous sideshow to the main theatres of war in Europe.

Later this morning there was an extra sombre atmosphere after the breaking news of the military helicopter crash north of Wellington, which claimed the lives of three service personnel en route to an ANZAC day parade flyover in the capital.  Military service can be hazardous in war and peace.

It is just over 70 years since Dame Vera Lynn, then 22, visited the Decca studios in London and first recorded We’ll Meet Again. The nostalgic lyrics became one of the best loved sing-along morale boosters during the grim days of World War II.

Voted the original “Forces Sweetheart” she travelled thousands of miles, often at great personal risk, to entertain the Allied troops.

Last year, at 92, she made history to become the oldest living artist ever to have a number one album: We’ll Meet Again -The Very Best Of Vera Lynn.

To make this triumph even sweeter, she even trumped the much-vaunted series of remastered Beatles albums to top the official charts. The moptops might have been more popular than Jesus Christ but they couldn’t knock Vera off this top spot. (When Dame Vera first sang of some sunny day 71 years ago John Lennon had not even been born. He died thirty years ago this December).

 Last November the newly annointed Forces Sweetheart at the Royal British Legion’s annual Festival of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall was Christchurch-born Kiwi singer, Hayley Westenra.

Hayley has been a staunch supporter of Forces’ charities since she shot to fame in the UK as a singer seven years ago and she was also recruited by the British Legion to be the face of their annual Poppy Appeal. 

Below is an early and rare video of Hayley Westenra and younger sister Sophie singing Up Where We Belong*  at our SmartNet workshops in 2000 to illustrate the theme of New Zealanders learning faster and working smarter to get Godzone  up the international rankings.

A decade later Hayley has formed a new personal entente cordiale with an unnamed French boyfriend. May the Forces be with her.

 #Lyall Lukey 25 April 2010  

http://www.lukey.co.nz/  http://www.smartnet.co.nz

*BLINKS
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W5uFzwzEVhQ     Letter from Gallipoli
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WG48Ftsr3OI&feature=related   And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda 
We’ll Meet Again – Vera Lynn  With WWII  photos
 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CqsFoKMA1w0   Hayley and Sophie Westenra, SmartNet 2000