World-Renowned Tenor Geoff Sewell who is set to tour New Zealand with pop-opera band Bravo Amici talked to NZ Golf Magazine about one of his other passions in life, golf.
Geoff Sewell has met and performed for some of the most famous people in the world, but for this multi-platinum-selling international recording artist who is about to headline a concert series across New Zealand, one of his great passions is being on a golf course.
Sewell, 47, is embarking on a tour of the USA and New Zealand over the next few months with the world’s first opera band and mixed classical crossover group, Bravo Amici, that he founded back in 2010.
The former chartered accountant was inspired by a visit to the home of Elvis Presley, Graceland and decided to leave accountancy and banking in New Zealand and follow his dreams of being a singer and recording artist.
But for the Wellington born Sewell, his golfing passion began much earlier.
“My Dad (Peter Sewell) introduced me to golf when I was 12 years old, taking me to the AMP showground’s public course in Hastings where I spent the next two hours topping the ball,” Sewell explained to NZ Golf Magazine.
“Super frustrated, about to give up, I hit a blinder in the sweet spot and it soared through the air and landed on the green. You only need one fabulous shot to keep you coming back for more! I was hooked.
“I joined Bridge Pa as a junior, took lessons and then every school holidays Dad would wake me at 6am and we would head to the course before anyone was around and play.
“The dew was still on the ground, dawn breaking, we would whip around in two and a half hours and be home before anyone else in the house knew we were gone.”
As well as singing and accountancy, Sewell is also the Global CEO of a London based entertainment company and travels the world as an inspirational keynote speaker, so how often would he get the chance to fit in a round of golf?
“If I’m lucky, once a month. I’m based in London and Auckland and I travel around the world constantly for work, so I don’t belong to a course,” he answered.
“I’m not in one place long enough to maximise the membership fees, especially the larger sums in the UK. Luckily for me, I have lots of friends and a father who are passionate about golf too, so I play with them as it’s the perfect way to catch up and do what we love.
“No matter how busy I am, with the consent of my family, I try to incorporate golf into my lifestyle as much as possible because I love it.
“Golf is like a three and a half-hour meditation for me. I always feel invigorated and alive every time I come off the course.”
Sewell has performed in some of the biggest arenas in the world, including the FA Cup Final at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium and singing the National Anthem before the Kiwi’s historic victory over Australia in the Rugby League World Cup Final in Brisbane in 2008.
He has also performed for global heroes and legends including Nelson Mandela and the Queen and has had “pinch myself” moments involving stars like Leonardo Di Caprio, P!nk, Beyonce, Katy Perry, Andrea Bocelli, Olivia Newton-John and Bill Clinton.
“One of the first superstar events I sang at was Sir Elton John’s White Tie and Tiara Ball at his home in Windsor years ago and the place was awash with famous faces everywhere I looked.”
Sewell has also sung for golfers Ernie Ells, Justin Rose and Ian Poulter but his favourite was Gary Player.
“I was fortunate to sit next to Gary at his annual charity dinner at Wentworth (Surrey, UK), where I was performing,” Sewell recalled.
“The bread rolls were being passed around and they were freshly baked and looked delicious. Gary looks like a 30-year-old and I asked him what his secret was, as I reached for a roll.
“He said, as he picked up his napkin and started chewing on it, ‘This napkin has more nutritional benefits than that bread roll. For 50 years I have only eaten food that fuels my body, not harms me. I also do 100 press-ups, 100 sit-ups and 100 pull-ups every day!’ as he got down on the ground and started doing one-handed press-ups.
“The guy is a golf god and an advert for what’s right about golf and life! He is 84 years young.”
When Sewell is not on tour and at his home in London he loves to tee off at some of his local courses.
“In London, where I’ve lived for 20 years, my course of choice is the “The Grove” in Watford; it’s only 25 minutes from my house in Hampstead and there are no memberships.
“You simply pay and play which is ideal for me. We stay there as a family sometimes as well; it’s a stunning resort and spa course.
“My mates are members of some pretty fabulous courses so I regularly play Wentworth, Sunningdale, Loch Lomond, Royal County Down and another mate owns a golf business so he gets us onto those courses that have insane waiting lists, like St Andrews.”
One of his favourite golfing stories played out at one of these courses, a round of golf with his dad at Loch Lomond, around 45 minutes north-west of Glasgow in Scotland.
“The first time Dad and I played Loch Lomond we were ushered into the clubhouse after valet parking, our clubs were sent off to be cleaned, hot towels were handed out and we were treated like royalty,” Sewell explained.
“There were only two groups playing that day, we were told. Our bags were tagged with ‘Ambassador Members,’ meaning we were influencers – my mate who was on the board of the club but could not join us, had asked that they lay on the treatment, especially as Dad was a visitor all the way from New Zealand.
“There was a lot of security in front and behind us, which we wondered about, and Dad and I were playing like bandits, having a ball. By the 9th hole, we suddenly understood what all the fuss was about, as this extremely tall, skinny American chap, playing in the four in front of us, greeted us at the turn and said, “Do you feel lucky, punk?” It was Dirty Harry himself, legend Clint Eastwood.”
Bravo Amici will be performing seven concerts across New Zealand, beginning in Christchurch on May 10 and finishing on May 19 at the Kiri Te Kanawa Theatre, Aotea Centre in Auckland. Every performance features Sewell as Tenor and includes a stunning company of stars from the West End and Broadway performing Amici Forever’s Biggest Hits.
Geoff Sewell is hoping the tour will allow him some opportunities to tee off on his favourite Kiwi golf courses.
“Here in New Zealand I love to play the stunning world-class courses like Tara Iti, Kauri Cliffs, Cape Kidnappers, Wairakei and beautiful courses close to my house like Murawai and the North Shore Golf Club (where my Dad is a member which means I can tag along).
“Sadly no one in Bravo Amici plays but if there are a couple of days at the end of a tour, before we have to fly off again, guess what I’m doing with promoters or audience members who want to tee it up with me.
“It’s an awesome way to see the world and learn from locals. I’d love to show my fellow Amici’s (who come from the UK and USA) the beauty of our courses, as even if you don’t play golf, you’re still wowed by their settings.”
As part of our chat with Geoff Sewell, we asked if he could have dinner with anyone you wanted (living or dead) and you can pick 3 to join you who would they be and why?
Elvis Presley – because I want to thank him! He is my inspiration and hero. 20 years ago I visited Graceland with my family and I had an epiphany: I decided to leave chartered accountancy and banking in NZ and follow my dreams of being a singer and recording artist. Exactly five years later I signed our Amici record deal in the New York offices of RCA Victor, under a picture of Elvis, as it was also his label. Serendipity. I wish I could ask him why did it all go wrong in the end? He was only 42!
Roger Federer – I love tennis as much as I love golf, At a charity auction, I bought one of the rackets he used to win Wimbledon. I met him recently when we were performing in Dubai. I was so nervous; my daughters Sienna and Olivia said to me, ‘Relax, he’s human’ but when I was with him I had no words… He must have thought I was such a muppet. I’d love the chance to sit down with him and pick his brains about tennis, life, love, the universe and everything.
Princess Diana – my wife, Simone, and I were living in London when Diana died and we went to Hyde Park to watch the ceremony on the big screens. Her funeral cortège drove right past our house later that day. I have never seen or sensed such a universal outpouring of love and grief, the energy was electric, each person there felt united and connected. I would love to experience the charisma she had, which so many speak about, and to bask in her glow for an evening.
Bravo Amici starring Geoff Sewell will perform across New Zealand from 10-19 May 2020. Tickets and more info www.bravoamici.com