Stories from the Choir
Stories from the Choir
Stories from the Choir
A REFLECTION ON THE CONCERT
Venue: The Baxter Concert Hall
Wednesday 4th March 2015 at 8.15p.m.
There is nothing quite like the joy of experiencing an audience standing to applaud and cheer at the end of a concert. Such was the joy experienced in the Baxter Concert Hall at the conclusion of our performance there last night under the baton of Alexander Fokkens – our Musical Director.
I have never been one for taking things apart to see how they work. And so I have no intention of posing as an analyst of the many facets and dynamics that go into the performance of concert items. But I feel I can share some understanding of how much such an enlivening and soul-enhancing concert came to be such.
By choosing, out of the three works on the programme, to give first performances of two in Cape Town, was in itself an act of daring – knowing just how conservative Cape Town audiences can be. The two first Cape Town performance items were: Mendelssohn”s Piano concerto in A minor and Cape Town composer Grant McLachlan”s Cantata Darius and the Den.
Pianist Reese Barkhuizen and the orchestra gave a hugely satisfying reading of the Mendelssohn, as did the orchestra with choir and soloists of the McLachlan Cantata.
I suppose the “bait” for the audience was the inclusion of the Beethoven Choral Fantasia for piano, soloists and orchestra with Reese Barkuizen again at the piano, and with soloists Levi Alexander, Janine Abrahams, Grant McLachlan; and Amanda Osorio, Marco Titus and Riaan Hunter – who were also the solists in the Darius Cantata.
Now, to comment on the music-making:
At the heart of it all was heart! – the heart of the conductor Alexander Fokkens.
He was not only knowlingly and creatively bringing each composition to life via the orchestra and the pianist and the singers, but, aware that an integral part of any public performance is casino online the audience, he achieved that most desirable of achievements – the bonding of the audience into the framework of the whole through every note brought to life by way of his conducting.
The centrality of his musicianship held both performers and audience in an amazing and tangible unity as each work unfolded to the final climax of joyful sound at the conclusion of the Beethoven Choral Fantasia.
Concerts such as last night”s do not just happen.They are the outcome of hours of hard work. And Alexander is no stranger to hard work.
Alexander would be the first to acknowledge that the success of the eveninng would not have been possible without the co-operation of each and every individual on stage.
It requires a huge amount of patience and humility to work with such a diverse body of individuals and to be able to mould them into a unified performing body of musicians.
This he achieved. I believe it was for all an incredible joy to feel such a deep sense of belonging together as we made the evening”s music under his baton. And to feel the very essence of the compositions performed come to fruition as from a heart pumping life-blood into every note.
No mean expression of the audience”s appreciation was evident in the amount they donated at interval towards a fund for the fire-fighters who have so valiantly been confronting the tragic fires raging through the Pensinsula over the past few days. An amount of over R8600 was collected.
FOR ALEXANDER FOKKENS –
time stands still
as he stands in silence
at one with the silence
of the Universe
Some personal reflections on the performance of Rossini”s MESSE SOLENNELLE in St. John”s Church, Wynberg on Sunday 15th June 2014
Basking in post-concert euphoria, it seems appropriate to pen some personal response to the performance of this work that was so enthusiastically embraced and received by an almost full house in St. John”s Church on the past Sunday evening.
The solo parts were wonderfully rendered by four youthful singers – Nomsa Mpofu (soprano), Bongiwe Nakani (mezzo-soprano). Willem Bester (tenor), and Martin Mkhize (bass) – brilliantly accompanied by organist Erik Dippenaar and concert pianist Albert Combrink. Along with these dedicated musicians, our conductor Alexander Fokkkens led the Symphony Choir of Cape Town with throrough sensitivity through the hour and twenty minutes of Rossini”s score in a performance infused with his own dynamic spirituality. Continue reading
FROM THE BASS LINE
A personal reflection on the performance
of Joseph Haydn”s NELSON MASS
in St George”s Cathedral at 8.00p.m.
on 17th October 2014
Soloists: Goitsemang Lehobye, Teresa de Wit;
Khanyiso Gwenxane; Siyabulela Ntale
The Symphony Choir of Cape Town
Conductor: Alexander Fokkens
The penny only dropped on the very morning of the concert when, in a moment of leisure, I Googled the Haydn Nelson Mass simply so that, even at that late stage of preparation, I could immerse myself as far as possible in the spirit and occasion of its composition.
In doing so I suddenly became aware of the fact that the original title given by Haydn to this work was not the “NELSON” Mass but the “MISSA IN ANGUSTIIS” – Mass for troubled times.
It would be difficult to describe just how this surprise insight affected me throughout the evening”s performance. The moment conductor Alexander stepped onto the podium I sensed deepdown within me that he would bring this Mass to life in a way that would reveal just how awesomely relevant both titles were to our present times in South Africa.
With the agitation of the opening bars I became mindful of the privilege I had of ministering to political prisoners both on Robben Island in the 1960″s and later in Pollsmoor Prison in the 1980″s during the turbulent days of the apartheid regime.
With the burst of the powerful opening Kyrie eleison I instantly felt the music transporting me casino pa natet to the presence of Nelson Mandela in prison, and how, over the years of his time in prison, the very structure and substance of the Christian Liturgical Mass would fashion his growth towards the statesman the whole nation – and, indeed, the world – came to love and revere. Continue reading
DREAMS COME TRUE
On Sunday, 19th May – the Feast of Pentecost – the day of our final rehearsal before the performance of the Beethoven Symphony No.9 (the Choral) – I heard these words read in St. Margaret”s Church, Fish Hoek where Jean (my wife) and I worship:
“…and your old men shall dream dreams…”(Acts 2.17)
But, its not only old men who dream dreams, it is also young men who dream them! And one of my dreams of some sixty years ago (which has been a recurring dream through the course of these past sixty years) was to sing in a performance of the Beethoven 9th Symphony. Continue reading