It’s one of the best known bagpipe solos in modern Australian music – and The Armidale School Year 8 student Hayley Whitehall was all confidence and composure as she played alongside legendary singer John Farnham at a concert Port Macquarie on 5 February.
Farnham’s ‘You’re The Voice’ was one of the highest charting songs of the 1980s and Hayley said performing to an audience of thousands as part of the Red Hot Summer Tour was incredible.
“It was the best experience of my life – I didn’t expect the crowd to cheer so loudly when we started playing,”’ she said.
“John Farnham was really nice and had a good chat with me about how happy he was that I could perform with him. It was an over-18s show, so I had to have a special pass and met lots of other performers including Jon Stevens, Shannon Noll and James Reyne.”
Hayley’s tutor Barry Gray, who tours with Farnham, asked Hayley several months ago if she would like to be the second piper on stage, “and I’ve been practicing it ever since.”
The 13 year old is also an accomplished Highland dancer, and it was through this that she became interested in learning the instrument, also being tutored by members of the Armidale Pipe Band.
“It’s something a bit different to most other instruments people play at school,” she said.
Director of Music Leanne Roobol said Hayley would have a lot to contribute to the school’s fledgling Pipes and Drums program, with half a dozen students learning the instrument.
“We have students learning brass, string, woodwind and percussion instruments as well as voice and also have three learning the organ. This reflects the growing diversity of musical talent at TAS,” she said.