Hayley Westenra, a 17-year-old from Christchurch, New Zealand, will be the guest artist with the Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra in its Friday, Dec. 17, holiday concert, at the Augusta Civic Center.

Westenra was the fastest-selling classical artist of all time in the United Kingdom when her internationally released album “Pure” reached gold status in less than a week and soon turned double-platinum.

Highlights of the past year have included performing for Queen Elizabeth II, British Prime Minister Tony Blair and President George W. Bush at a private concert at the U.S. ambassador’s residence in London; performing with Bryn Terfel and José Carreras in Wales and again with Carreras at London’s Royal Albert Hall; performing at the Royal Variety Show alongside Luciano Pavarotti in Edinburgh and leading the Amnesty International Christmas concert in London’s Trafalgar Square.

More than 10 years ago, when she danced and sang the lead in her school Christmas play, her parents witnessed their daughter’s extraordinary talent. A teacher suggested that she take up a musical instrument, so she began violin lessons and soon added piano and recorder.

By the age of 11, she had appeared in more than 40 stage productions, sung on TV shows, and performed in major concerts. In 2000 she recorded a vocal demo album, which made its way to a local television journalist, who invited the young singer on her program.

That appearance captured the attention of New Zealand concert promoter Gray Bartlett, and a record deal soon followed. Her self-titled debut CD featured a mix of show music and classical pieces; it went straight to No.1 in the pop charts, turned triple-platinum and made her the fastest-selling local artist in New Zealand history. This was followed by the platinum Christmas album “My Gift to You.”

While Westenra sees herself as primarily a classical performer, on “Pure” she also explores the worlds of pop and traditional Maori choral singing. Album producer Giles Martin enlisted the help of several people, including his father, legendary Beatles producer Sir George Martin.

She kicked off 2004 with her first headlining world tour of New Zealand, Australia, Japan and the United Kingdom.

She is currently launching her album in North America, where she has recorded the end-title song of the Disney film “Mulan 2.” She will also take on her first major acting role with a guest appearance on the NBC television series “American Dreams.” Her national PBS TV special will air across the United States. later this year.

Tickets are on sale at the Civic Center Box Office, 626-2400, and at Ticketmaster, (207) 775-3331 or online at www.ticketmaster.com.


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