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Semi-final soloists confirmed for RWC 2011

Elizabeth Marvelly, Nick Afoa, Ainslie Allen and Jonathan Lemalu will sing the anthems at the two RWC 2011 semi-finals on October 15 and 16. They join Hayley Westenra and Will Martin, who were previously confirmed to sing the anthems at the Final on October 23.
Marvelly, who recently had the distinction of singing the New Zealand anthem at both the Tri Nations Test matches in New Zealand and at the competition’s deciding Test match in Brisbane, will sing the New Zealand anthem should the All Blacks qualify for one of the semi-finals. She will be joined by Allen, who performed the South African and Australian anthems at the recent Tri Nations matches held in Wellington and Auckland respectively.
Afoa, a former Rugby player who hails from a family with strong Rugby pedigree, is a noted operatic singer who has also made his name as an anthem singer of distinction and, like his fellow opera singer Jonathan Lemalu, has performed at Test matches in New Zealand in recent years.
A fifth singer, Sharon Cotter, will perform the Welsh anthem should Wales be among the final four teams left in the Tournament.
Soloists excited about RWC 2011 opportunity
While each of the singers have performed with distinction on some of the grand stages around the world, they are all excited about the opportunity to sing at RWC 2011.
“To be asked to sing the national anthem at the semi-final of the Rugby World Cup is an absolute honour,” said Elizabeth Marvelly. “I am massively excited about watching the games, and I feel incredibly lucky to be singing on the same field that our boys will be playing on.”
Said Nick Afoa: “I feel deeply honoured to sing at the RWC 2011 semi- finals for many reasons. The main reason being, that the anthem is the last bit of music a player hears before kickoff. I want to make sure that the anthem is as pure and heartfelt as it can be, so by the time kick off rolls around, the players have had that time to stand and sing with pride. It is a special privilege that I get to be the voice that conveys a nation’s tradition and history in singing their anthem. ”

Jonathan Lemalu is equally passionate about this opportunity. “Two of my lifelong passions have been Rugby and music and I have often dreamt of combining both and being able to sing at the Rugby World Cup.  I am just thrilled that this has finally happened: and in my home country!”
In addition, specially-convened local choirs will perform the anthems at all 40 pool matches and at the eight play-off matches, supporting the soloists in the final three matches.
The choirs are a joint initiative between Rugby New Zealand 2011 (RNZ 2011) and the New Zealand Choral Federation (NZCF) and were created following a series of workshops around the country to audition, select and train the choristers. The choirs are backed by recordings of all 20 anthems by the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra.
RNZ 2011 CEO Martin Snedden said the confirmation of the anthem singers and performances for all 48 matches was another piece of the ceremonial and entertainment mosaic that will make RWC 2011 one of the most memorable events staged in New Zealand.
“We are excited at the talent that will be on show even before the matches kick-off through the match presentation activity and the anthem and choral performances,” he said.
Pre-match entertainment at all RWC 2011 matches
Meanwhile, RNZ 2011 confirmed that a diversity of other performers will be on show in the pre-match entertainment during the pool match phase of the Tournament.
These range from traditional Kapa Haka and other Maori cultural performances through to military and pipe bands to more contemporary drum and cultural performances reflecting the cultures and flavours of the competing teams.
These include cultural group Te Raukura, from Rotorua Boys & Girls’ High School; the New Zealand Army, Royal New Zealand Air Force and Royal New Zealand Navy bands; the Wellington Batucada in Wellington; Ngati Kahungunu’s – Te Rerenga Kotuku Kapa Haka in Napier; Vision Cultural Movement and the IPC Kodama Japanese Drum Team at the Canada vs Japan match in Napier.
“We are particularly delighted to welcome some performers from overseas who are contributing to the pre-match entertainment, including the United States Marine Force Pacific Band who will perform at two matches featuring the USA Eagles in New Plymouth,” said Mr Snedden.
The RWC 2011 match presentation will also include other entertainment on the field and inside and around stadia before and during matches which will add to the atmosphere.
“RWC 2011 is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Kiwis to experience a major event and the package we have put around every game means these experiences will also be different to what New Zealand Rugby fans are used to, and will also be distinctive to visiting Rugby fans. We hope people who have not yet made their mind up about attending a RWC 2011 match seize this opportunity while it is still there.”


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