MUSICAL MILESTONES

VOX Cape Town was founded in July 2015 to create fresh, mesmerising choral experiences to enrich the musical life of the Mother City. The ensemble has since developed a reputation for its imaginative programming and its performances of seldom-heard choral music in unconventional spaces.

Here are our most significant musical highlights since our first gathering in July 2015:

2024

June 2024: Returning to the beautiful coastal town of Hermanus for the first time in five years, we presented an immersive programme of choral music inspired by the splendour of the natural world entitled ‘Tree of Life’ during the first weekend of the annual FynArts Festival. This was preceded by an open rehearsal at the Baxter Theatre in Rondebosch and a ‘warm-up performance’ at the Oude Westhof Retirement Village in Bellville. We will be singing the same programme at the Olympia Bakery in Kalk Bay in August

2023

October 2023: Providing a striking contrast to our previous musical offering, Timeless Whispers was a glorious multisensory celebration of mostly new South African music evoking the timeless allure, rugged landscapes and sparkling night skies of the Karoo

August 2023: Arguably VOX’s most ambitious performance yet, with over 600 guests, Eternal Echoes: Rachmaninoff, Tchaikovsky, Tavener, Byrd (and Beyond) took place in the vast, candlelit, incense-infused Bishops Memorial Chapel. This musical programme, which used the Rachmaninoff Vespers as a starting point and spanned four centuries, was augmented by the Chanticleer Singers and Richard Cock who were visiting from Johannesburg

July 2023: VOX celebrated its eighth birthday at the Two Oceans Aquarium by jamming with local rock band ISO

March 2023: March was a bumper month for us with performances at the opening ceremony of the National Conductors’ Convention, the premiere a newly-commissioned choral work by Kristi Boonzaaier and a performance of his San Gloria in Stellenbosch as part of the 70th birthday celebrations of Péter Louis van Dijk

January 2023: The year started off with a bang, with a performance of Mendelssohn’s magnificent orchestral score to A Midsummer Night’s Dream with the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra under the Shakespeare-steeped oaks of Maynardville – followed soon afterwards by a performance of 20th- and 21st-century choral music at the Baxter Concert Hall (Music Across Time) including the first performance of a full choral arrangement of Grant McLachlan’s setting of four poems by South African women, Of Light

2022

September 2022: Five members of VOX, as well as a number of our former singers and many close musical friends, participated in several performances of Thomas Tallis’s monumental 40-part motet, Spem in alium, as part of the 2022 Cape Town Baroque Festival. This event continued a long-standing relationship between VOX and the music of Thomas Tallis – and the Cape Town Baroque Festival!

February 2022: On Valentine’s Day, we shared our final Virtual VOX project, entitled Doubt Thou, a celebration of devotion and love and was especially commissioned for the ten-year anniversary and engagement of two special members of our musical family

2021

December 2021: Finally, after almost two years of stay-at-home performances, we returned to the stage together with Here be Dragons early music ensemble for two immersive musical journeys – a folk-inspired concert experience entitled Follow That Star: A Traveller’s Companion to Christmas and, the following day, the famous Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols, both at St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church

August 2021: A handful of singers contribute their voices to the soundscape of a short film for an international exhibition on gender and architecture opening later in the year at the MAXXI Museum in Rome. A curious experiment in abstract vocalising, working to a series of prompts for solo and ensemble voices, the central setting of the film was APS Conradie’s futuristic and ambitious Op Die Berg Kerk in the Cederberg. It was so refreshing to explore sound, space and spontaneity in this way, and we thank Meghan Ho-Tong, Matty Roodt and Lucienne Bestall for their invitation to participate in this project

February 2021: Our manager and baritone Kyle Paulssen, currently a medical intern at George Hospital, becomes our first singer to be vaccinated (or, as we like to say, “VOXinated”) against Covid-19, laying a significant first step for us to come together and eventually to sing again, safely and responsibly

2020

December 2020: VOX’s fifth Christmas Eve broadcast of the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols concludes with a sparkling virtual performance entitled “Rejoice!” A Compendium of Carols with Here be Dragons early music ensemble and soprano Lente Louw

October 2020: VOX releases its fifth album, Of Barrels and Blossoms, a rich bouquet of choral masterpieces from home and abroad, to mark its fifth birthday and to share the beauty of choral music, bringing comfort and community, during these times of stay-at-home performances

September 2020: VOX releases its fourth virtual performance, The Seal Lullaby by Eric Whitacre, in collaboration with the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra

July 2020: To celebrate its fifth anniversary (while staying distant), VOX releases its third Virtual VOX project (Stars by Ēriks Ešenvalds), live recordings from its performance at the Norval Foundation in 2019, and hosts a special “Five Years of VOX” broadcast on Fine Music Radio for its wider musical family

June 2020: In the midst of a global wave against the scourge of racism, VOX commits itself to taking a vocal stand against racism. John Woodland is invited to the Hermanus Fynarts Festival to discuss lessons (and tips!) that have been learnt from the Virtual VOX lockdown projects

May 2020: VOX releases its second Virtual VOX project. Entitled Gebed, it is the first recording of a new choral work by South African composer Hans Huyssen that VOX commissioned in 2019

April 2020: “Recorded alone, but singing together…” On Freedom Day 2020, VOX releases its very first Virtual VOX project, with meditative visuals designed by Liam Pitcher, intended to bring comfort and hope during this extraordinary period

February 2020: Based on its presentation with Grant McLachlan at the UCT Summer School the previous month, and for its fourth presentation “In The Dark”, VOX presents two recitals of choral music spanning 1 000 years in the cathedral-like acoustic of the Youngblood Gallery

2019

December 2019: VOX’s fifth annual Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols, attended by over 400 guests, features three new additions to the local repertoire: Stephen Carletti’s By, By, Lullaby, a “baie rustig” setting of Somerkersfees by Hans Huyssen and an isiXhosa translation of the sublime Cradle Hymn. Recordings of all three pieces featured on the Christmas Eve broadcast on Fine Music Radio

July 2019: There were many “firsts” at the series of three intimate recitals entitled “Flower Songs” presented at the UCT Irma Stern Museum; these include botanically-inspired music arranged by Matthew Dennis, the premiere of a brand-new choral piece (Caged Bird) by Nicky Schrire and unique disa origami designed by Timothy Povall of Timugami

May 2019: For its first out-of-town recital, styled in the form of a musical autobiography, VOX shares its music with the Hermanus Music Society in the homestead cellar of the Bouchard Finlayson Boutique Winery in the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley

March/April 2019: In anticipation of its performance at the Norval Foundation, VOX hosts an open rehearsal and preview performance, both free of charge, to share their music more widely. VOX also enters into a special partnership with Ian Burgess-Simpson Pianos, who generously sponsored instruments for both performances

2018

December 2018: For two months, VOX’s recordings are featured in the first Light Art Festival at Spier Wine Farm as part of an installation featuring “a series of choral soundscapes accompanied by light projections” on the bamboo forest

October 2018: VOX’s largest and most collaborative musical project yet, Cape Town’s first performance of the “Stabat Mater” by Karl Jenkins, takes an audience of over 800 on “a choral and orchestral journey to solace”

August 2018: While some of VOX’s “extended family” of former singers are invited to participate in a performance to celebrate the re-opening of the Cape Town City Hall with Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 (“Resurrection”), VOX’s main focus is a special concert hosted by the South African College of Music to celebrate the 90th birthday of local composer and pianist, Thomas Rajna

June 2018: VOX’s first “music video”, a setting by Grant McLachlan of a poem called “Molweni”, was commissioned for the Eco-Logic Awards 2018. It was screened in Tshwane on World Environment Day and later appears on YouTube

April 2018: Constantly looking to engage better with its audiences, VOX runs an extensive online survey to determine its listeners’ preferences; these responses were compiled into concert programme entitled “VOX Pops” which served as a fundraiser for a new community hall for St Andrew’s Church in Newlands

January 2018: For the second year running, VOX participates in the annual lecture-demonstrations of its patron, Dr Barry Smith, as part of the UCT Summer School in the Baxter Concert Hall; a week later, VOX presents Mozart on the same stage for the Cape Town Concert Series, “South Africa’s most prestigious chamber music and recital platform”

2017

December 2017: As part of a commitment to local choral music, VOX commissions and premieres a new work written by young Cape Town-based composer Maike Watson for the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols, with words by Margaret Kollmer

September 2017: VOX performs at the inaugural Cape Town Baroque Festival, commencing a fruitful relationship with local early orchestra Camerata Tinta Barocca

August 2017: VOX presents its first instalment of a unique pairing of wine and choral song, known as “ViniChoral”, at Groot Constantia, South Africa’s oldest wine-producing estate

April 2017: VOX signs a recording contract with local record label WooWi/CapeTown Sound to produce recordings for the local and global market

2016

December 2016: VOX is invited to record its Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols which is broadcast on Christmas Eve Fine Music Radio, beginning an important annual tradition

November 2016: VOX launches its most successful musical journey – “Trust the Silences” – which is described as “a mind massage of masterful sound – such delicious clarity of notes that resonated with every fibre of attention”

September 2016: The first concert in the “New Soundscapes” series, “A Tale of Two Tave(r)ners”, is held at VOX’s performance “home”, St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church

August 2016: VOX presents its very first public performance as part of the “In The Dark” series at the Youngblood Gallery in Cape Town

July 2016: VOX Cape Town launches its new identity and vision (“to invigorate local choral music through imaginative programming and staging to create intimate, immersive sensory experiences”) and announces its first series of performances for the coming year entitled “New Soundscapes”

2015
27 July 2015: VOX (then called “Vox Humana”) holds its first rehearsal