Award-winning Christchurch singer Ali Harper’s concerts are synonymous with uplifting locals in hard times, and her latest show is no different. Metropol catches up with Ali ahead of The Look of Love, where she puts her own special touch on Burt Bacharach’s hits alongside pianist Tom Rainey.
WHAT IS IT ABOUT BURT BACHRACH’S MUSIC WHICH RESONATES WITH YOU?
“Burt’s music is brave, inspiring, creatively exquisite and abundantly beautiful – values I greatly admire. He spent a large part of his career writing about moments in history that were particularly troubling. His music has been, and continues to be, a tonic for so many.”
YOUR WORK IS CLOSELY LINKED TO UPLIFTING THE PEOPLE OF CHRISTCHURCH, AND BURT BACHARACH’S SONGS HAVE LONG BEEN A SALVE FOR TROUBLED TIMES. TELL US WHAT PARALLELS YOU DRAW BETWEEN HIS WORK AND CANTERBURY’S OWN STORIES OF RESILIENCE – ESPECIALLY IN THESE PANDEMIC TIMES.
“The sense of community and family has never been stronger. We discovered our own special ‘bubbles’ in those months in lockdown which gave us a new sense of gratitude for what we have and what is truly important. We have faced challenges as a city ten years ago with the earthquakes and last year with the Mosque shootings which shook us both physically and emotionally. Now as we face another upheaval, this show really could not have come at a better time. It’s as if the Bacharach anthem ‘What the World Needs Now’ was written for 2020 not 55-years ago.”
WHAT CAN AUDIENCES EXPECT FROM YOUR SHOWS?
“With all my concerts I really enjoy taking that fourth wall down and inviting the audience in as if they are in my living room. It’s like meeting old friends again and making new ones. Because Burt’s music is so well-known, I know everyone will be smiling and feeling those waves of nostalgia right from the opener.”
LOCKDOWN HAS HAD A LARGE IMPACT ON THE ARTS SCENE IN CHRISTCHURCH, HOW HAS IT IMPACTED YOU AND HOW ARE YOU ADAPTING?
“Yes, I had a lot of work postponed around the country. Fortunately, my other passion besides performing is teaching yoga and singing. I have set up a home studio called Cultivate Joy which does exactly that, teaching all ages, all abilities.”
YOU’VE BEEN PERFORMING FOR MORE THAN 25 YEARS IN NEW ZEALAND AND ABROAD, WHAT KEEPS FUELLING YOUR PASSION FOR YOUR CRAFT?
“Connecting with people and giving not only myself the platform to express myself, share stories and honour the great artists I adore, but to allow people to escape, to reminisce and have a fabulous experience in the theatre. Something I, with so many, will never take for granted again.”