Big names fly home to honour marvellous mentor
BIG NAMES FLY HOME TO HONOUR
14 August 2014
A woman described as “marvellous” by her many students, Janice Webb has inspired and mentored singers from her home-based singing studio onto the world stage; to television, to Los Angeles and even to London’s West End. Now, with more than 20 of her best-known students flying in from all over the world to perform, Janice Webb’s 70th Birthday SING Reunion at the Bruce Mason Centre is a tribute to the mentor she became quite by accident.
Having been raised by a mother with an exceptional singing voice, it was only natural Janice herself took an interest in the art form. After secondary school in Wellington and in pursuit of getting her voice to be the “very best it could be”, at the age of 24 Janice moved to Auckland to learn mastery of her voice from Muriel Gale.
Janice says it was her love of the vocal instrument that put her on the teaching path she has been on for decades. “The voice is the only instrument you have to build, the only one you can’t buy another of and the only one you can’t see. It’s unique to each of us – it is soul-baring, and I love it!”
As a performer and sought after national adjudicator, Janice has appeared in countless stageshows, including Iolanthe, The Sound of Music and The Gondoliers, all while teaching full-time. But, when asked about a personal career highlight, it could just as easily be somebody else’s. Lyle Kennaway helped Janice achieve her own dream as she mentored and guided him to win the auspicious 1977 Mobil Song Quest – “That was such a highlight for both me and for Lyle; it was a phenomenal validation of all of the work he’d put in and I couldn’t have been prouder of his success.”
Lisa Chappell, Emily Robins, Will Martin, Tayla Alexander, Joe Murray, Helen Medlyn and Tim Beveridge are just a number of artists who’ve committed to performing at Janice Webb’s 70th Birthday SING Reunion in honour of their mentor. Pianists Tim Evans (Hayley Westenra’s musical director, who teaches on the West End) and David Kelly, among other celebrated musicians, will also be on hand to pay tribute to Jan.
The event’s main organiser, Will Martin, says the evening is a fitting tribute to a friend, mentor and investor in the lives of those she teaches.
“Originally we asked Jan to choose a number of students whom she would love to see perform in a SING concert again. It’s an amazing honour to the person Jan is that they all delighted in saying yes; twenty artists from all around the world are ensuring they don’t miss the opportunity to use their talent in a display of gratitude to the woman who helped nurture and encourage it.
“I speak for all of us when I say it has been an honour to learn from Jan, and we can’t wait to show her how much she means to us in the best way we know how.”
Labour spokesperson for Arts, Culture & Heritage Jacinda Ardern says it is a wonderful occasion to credit a woman who has directly nurtured the arts in New Zealand. "Some of us in life are privileged to have had that one teacher who has been the difference between being lost and being found, between understanding the world around us or not, between success, and what feels like failure, between unconditional support, and constant doubt.
And you know you have found one of those teachers, when you see the students, who no matter what, continue to honour them.
Happy Birthday Janice, but more importantly, thank you for your dedication to teaching, and to music. I once heard someone say that all our lives have a sound track. If that's the case, New Zealand's sound track is rich and beautiful because of the people like you who have contributed to it. "
While she regularly keeps in touch with many of her past students, Janice herself cannot wait to see the performers in their element and back on stage in the North Shore community she has been part of for more than forty years.
“It’s great that this event is taking place here where I have so many fond memories, from meeting new students in the local productions, to those at CentreStage and now through the CCMT of which I am patron.
“I am blown away that all of these people have re-scheduled their very busy lives and careers to come and perform at this SING event. I am so excited to not only see them perform but to give them all big hugs!”
What: Janice Webb’s 70th Birthday Reunion Concert
When: Sunday 17 August 2014 from 5:30pm
Where: Bruce Mason Centre, Takapuna
Cost: Adults: $39
Messages to Jan from well-known students:
The simple fact is that I would not be who I am today, professionally, or personally, were it not for the tutelage and mentorship of Janice Webb over the formative years of my career.
Lisa Chappell (McLeod’s Daughters, Gloss)
Jan you are an exceptional teacher, friend and human being. You are a shining example for us all to try to live up to. Thank you for everything you give - I love you very much!
Emily Robins (Shortland Street, The Elephant Princess)
Jan, you are Chief Mother of a devoted and widely spread community! Thank you for sharing your love of music with us all.
To be a part of this special event will take its place amongst the greatest highlights of my career. To share the stage with so many prestigious performers, all of whom, like me, owe a great deal of their success to you, Jan, is an honour. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for everything you have done, and continue to do, for your many admirers.
I will be forever grateful to Jan for helping me to come out of my shell and to really believe in myself and my performances - she knows my voice and its strengths better than I do! I can honestly say that I am so fortunate to be part of the community Jan has created with her students, and I am excited to continue learning from her and all she has to offer.
What can you
say that's NOT kind about Janice! I think one her great
gifts is her belief in we who do not believe in ourselves. I
marvel at her incredible innate gift of choosing songs that
will make us shine, that will show us off to our best. I
love her ability to love me even when I'm ghastly. When I
was first a student, I was ghastly; I was recalcitrant,
obtuse, reluctant, sullen...yet she somehow magicked me into
singing - she just kept smiling through my stormy stomping
Jan is like a little sunny spirit and my world would be less without her shining in it.