Can't go to France? This is French music on your doorstep! French chansons by some of France's greatest chansons singers including Edith Piaf, Jacques Brel, Charles Aznavour, Yves Montand.
Lala Simpson, who is a singer from Madagascar and fluent in French has been singing and performing since she was a young girl. She spent much of her childhood listening to Radio France International with her parents and singing along to French songs in the evening. In her teenage years, she fell in love with the songs of Edith Piaf and Jacques Brel and would sing "Non Je ne regrette rien" and "Ne me Quitte pas" to the amusement of her friends who thought the songs too old-fashioned.
Lala's past performances have been claimed as moving and deeply touching. Her rich voice and extensive range mixed with her mastery of the French language bring depth to the songs and a new understanding for the audience.
She will be accompanied by 3 of Wellington' finest musicians:
-Jonathan Berkahn (Accordion): Jonathan Berkahn is a Wellington-based performer, composer, and conductor. He studied organ and harpsichord with Douglas Mews, before diversifying into many other fields of general musical usefulness. He has accompanied the Festival Singers for over two decades now, and conducted them between 2013 and 2019.
Around about 2000 he started playing the accordion that his brother-in-law loaned, then gave him, and has never looked back. He is a regular at Tuesday night's Irish session at the Welsh Dragon in Courtenay Place, a co-founder of VicFolk (the Victoria University folk club and ceilidh band), a ceilidh-caller, and member of various dance bands of different genres, from Eastern Europe to North America.
He met Lala in 2014, taught her children piano, and they have been musical collaborators ever since.
-Richard Hardie (double bass): Studying under Dale Gold, Richard graduated several decades ago with a Performance degree from Victoria University. Following a short tenure with the Auckland Philharmonia he travelled to the USA where he completed a Masters in Double Bass performance from Rice University, studying with the legendary Paul Ellison. During the 90s Richard spent 10 years in North America playing in a variety of orchestras and ensembles. A highlight was spending two summers as part of the Pacific Music Festival Orchestra in Hokkaido, Japan. He returned to New Zealand in 2000 where he lectured for 7 years at Victoria University. A special area of interest for Richard is the history of Jazz in New Zealand. In particular, he is a leading authority on the long-running Tauranga Jazz Festival. Richard now works for the Government which means he can enjoy freelancing with a variety of orchestras and ensembles.
-Dayle Anderson (Piano): Dayle Anderson performs a variety of music as an accompanist in Wellington. For many years she was rehearsal pianist and accompanist for the Festival Singers under the direction of Guy Jansen and Rita Paczian, performing with them in concerts locally and overseas. She accompanies instrumental and vocal students for examinations and auditions and has played for a number of amateur musical productions. In recent years she has worked with Lala and other musicians in a number of concerts, presenting the music of French artists such as Edith Piaf and Jacques Brel. Dayle enjoys making music with others and is part of the team of musicians at St. John’s in the City in Wellington.