VOX IN THE MEDIA
ARTICLES, (P)REVIEWS AND INTERVIEWS
Described as Cape Town’s most innovative choral collective, VOX Cape Town has fast established itself as a standout on the local music scene. Under the direction of Dr John Woodland, VOX has continually impressed audiences both with its fresh approach to new and interesting repertoire, including commissioning several new works by local composers, and its approach to concert staging including lighting and visual effects. […] On March 25 and April 6, VOX Cape Town will be performing a program of choral and piano works at St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Cape Town and the Norval Foundation in Steenberg, respectively. The piano items will be played by Clinton Claasen. Ian Burgess-Simpson Pianos is delighted to partner with VOX and provide instruments for both performances.
Like an exotic flower, Jenkins gives us a blank canvas and the licence to paint his verses with atmospheric lighting and so immerse our audience in a choral and orchestral journey to solace.
The second Cape Town Baroque Festival (CTBF) is yet again set to be a highlight on the city’s music calendar. With local and international soloists and ensembles performing, the CTBF will offer audiences a varied programme of top quality baroque music. […] The CTBF 2018 opens on Friday 21 September at 8 pm with Glorious Baroque, a concert featuring Vivaldi’s popular Gloria (RV 589). Sopranos Lynelle Kenned and Elsabé Richter, as well as mezzo-soprano Lusibalwethu Sesanti will be the soloists. VOX Cape Town will be accompanied by CTB under the direction of Erik Dippenaar.
There’s a relatively young but extremely precocious kid on the choral block in Cape Town and it’s making bold forays into territories that have been hitherto largely avoided by older choirs. Known as VOX (the Latin word for “voice”) and led by 30-year-old singer-scientist-cum-choir-director John Woodland, the group has committed itself to “taking choral music out of the traditional, conservative concert hall and into the world”.
UCT’s SA College of Music is honouring Dr Thomas Rajna’s approaching 90th birthday with a concert, “Rajna at 90”, at the Baxter Concert Hall on Tuesday August 14 at 7.30 pm. Dr Rajna, who lives in Claremont, was an associate professor of music at the college until his retirement in 1993. The composer himself will contribute a performance of his Capriccio for piano. The programme includes Dr Rajna’s work, which includes Serenade for wind, piano and percussion; Three Hebrew Choruses sung by the Cape Youth Choir directed by Leon Starker, and The Creation – a sermon for chorus with organ, performed by VOX directed by John Woodland.
In this great wine-producing country it’s (almost) obligatory to sip wine before a concert. One or two people may even munch a chocolate during the performance. However, marrying music, wine, chocolate into a multi-sensory experience in one evening is not normal practice. Yet, this is precisely what John Woodland’s VOX is offering lovers of these “foods for the gods” at their ViniChoral II happening in Groot Constantia’s Wine Cellar on 16 March.
Port Elizabeth writer Margaret Kollmer has had a poem of hers commissioned as a new Christmas carol in Cape Town. The carol is titled “Christmas in Africa” and it was commissioned by Cape Town’s newest choir, VOX Cape Town, under the direction of John Woodland. The carol, with words by Kollmer and music by Maike Watson of Cape Town, will premiere at two services of the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols in Cape Town this month. “A recording of the service will also be broadcast on Cape Town’s Fine Music Radio, with an introduction by well-known broadcaster Rodney Trudgeon,” Kollmer said.
Lovers of choral music responded enthusiastically to VOX Cape Town‘s latest musical adventure. Their delightful programme of music from the Baltic region took on the theme of a musical journey. With this in mind, the pulpit area of the St Andrews Presbyterian Church was decorated with sails and barrels, and to add to the feeling of a cold weather sea voyage, warm Glühwein was served before the concert. Moody lighting and ocean sounds completed the pre-concert ambience before the VOX Baltic journey commenced.
“Northern Lights: A Baltic Voyage” is a heavenly ballet of light dancing and music floating across the night sky.
REVIEW: “And Music To Your Ears…” by Melanie Bruce (Published in the BBC Music Magazine, July 2017)
I recently attended a celebration of contemporary choral music by Cape Town’s latest choir, VOX Cape Town, under the direction of John Woodland. He and his singers created an intimate, sensory experience as they showcased the music of Eric Whitacre, demonstrating what powerful beauty there is in the empty moments, the silence. The evening opened with Whitacre’s “This Marriage” – such rich, luscious tone clusters, reminiscent of choral chant. The piece took us beyond ourselves with the exotic, unexpected sounds using hands as well as voices.
VOX Cape Town, the self-styled successor to Barry Smith’s erstwhile St George’s Singers, is on a mission. Over their relatively short existence they have turned themselves into a choir — or “singing group”, as they refer to themselves — with a unique sound. A unique “voice”, too, in the figurative sense of the word. Under the guidance of their choirmaster John Woodland they aim to “invigorate” classical music in Cape Town. But what does that mean?
When VOX and Groot Constantia wines blend together, the outcome is ViniChoral. That’s a name coined by John Woodland, VOX’s founder and director, for a choral presentation to be held on 3 August at 7.30 pm for 8 pm in Groot Constantia Wine Cellar. This, however is no ‘common or garden’ glass in one hand with background yodelling. This is a serious wine tasting event with 30 VOX singers singing carefully-chosen music to complement the wines.
On Friday 21 April at 8 pm, VOX Cape Town under the direction of John Woodland will present “Trust The Silences (Once More)” in the Memorial Chapel at Bishops in Rondebosch. classicsa.co.za spoke to Woodland about his journey from young choral singer to choral conductor and his vision for VOX Cape Town.
“Yearning, despair, life, passion, beauty, tension… The hidden clockwork of the universe.” This is how one singer describes the music in VOX Cape Town’s forthcoming performance, Trust the Silences (Once More). […] Fellow singer and judge, Owen Rogers, summed up the performance in this way: “The music is contemplative, ethereal, sometimes magical – you will be transported to another world, if only for an hour.”
[Hans] Van Heukelum summed up his first “Trust the Silences” experience as, “a mind massage of masterful sound – such delicious clarity of notes that resonated with every fibre of attention. I have never emerged so relaxed from a sound box. John (Woodland) created a sound scene like an opera without intrusions.”