Sisters all set to sing out
They will be the youngest act performing at this Saturday's Nelson Opera in the Park but Stoke's singing sisters Bailee and Hana Tava are unlikely to overwhelmed when they get up on stage for the big night at Trafalgar Park.
Bailee, 12, and Hana, 14, have been invited by musical director Pete Rainey to sing five songs to help get Opera in the Park's pre-show entertainment under way.
Although they will be performing in front of a large crowd and warming up the stage for some big names, it will be a walk in the park for the two rising stars.
The sisters have been singing with their guitar-playing father Ivan since they could walk and after making their stage debut in Nelson's Got Talent they have gone on to bigger things. They have performed at weddings, kapa haka competitions, opened for Salmonella Dub on the Church Steps in Nelson at the New Year and performed at the last Opera in the Park in 2010.
Hana has also starred in front of 103,000 people at the Coca-Cola Christmas in the Park in Christchurch. Ivan said Hana was selected to sing at Christmas in the Park after two auditions that attracted 250 singers.
"They were all professional singers and they all had their agents," Ivan recalled. "Hana was a 13-year-old girl with her father and she got the gig." Although Hana said she was "really nervous at the start" of Christmas in the Park, she soon got used to performing in front of the massive crowd.
Ivan said he wasn't surprised Bailee, who attends Waimea Intermediate School, and Hana, a student at Waimea College, were so musical. Ivan and his wife Miranda come from musical families and the two girls were immersed in music at the Te Whatukura kapa haka group from an early age.
"We'd take them along to kapa haka when they were babies and they'd be sitting on our knee or sleeping on our shoulder while we were playing the guitar and singing. Hana learned the guitar by ear and then learned how to read music and then, when Bailee was older, they just started singing together by themselves at home."
Ivan said the girls were always rehearsing and had benefited greatly from lessons with their singing coach Zoe Jackson who has been working with Hana for the past two years.
"She's really good," Hana said.
Pete said he had "been keeping a bit of eye" on the musical talents of Bailee and Hana and had been keen "to give them an opportunity to sing in front of a big crowd".
"It's good to see young Nelson talent coming through," he said.
Saturday's Opera in the Park will feature rising international soprano star Madeleine Pierard and her mezzo-soprano sister Anna Pierard, and New Zealand favourites Don McGlashan and Julia Deans, all supported by accomplished conductor Marc Taddei and Orchestra Wellington.
Also taking to the stage will be Nelson jazz singer Trudi Wilson, who will join the lineup at what will be one of Nelson's biggest events of the year.
Pete said it was a real coup to have successfully attracted the Pierard sisters.
"Madeleine is getting a big reputation internationally and has just completed a two-year residency with The Royal Opera at Covent Garden, which is no mean feat. Anna is also establishing herself as one to watch."
Bailee and Hana will start the pre-show entertainment from 5.30pm followed by some of our country's finest female singers and entertainers: Tina Cross, Suzanne Lynch and Jackie Clarke of The Lady Killers.
Tickets are $15 for adults, $5 for children aged 5 to 15, and under-5s are free.
As in previous years, concertgoers will experience a spectacular fireworks display at the end of the show, thanks to the support of Combat Pyrotechnic and Zumo Coffee.
Tickets are on sale at Everyman Records, 249 Hardy St, phone 03 548 3083, or book online at everyman.co.nz. Booking fees apply. Opera in the Park is part of Nelson City Council's Summer in Nelson programme.