WITH THE CHANTICLEER SINGERS AND RICHARD COCK
Thank you for joining us on our magical, mystical musical odyssey through the centuries – we hope that you enjoyed your evening with us! We were grateful for the opportunity to sing with the Chanticleer Singers and Richard Cock who have since safely returned to Johannesburg.
“Never before has the Memorial Chapel looked so beautiful, bathed in lambent and metamorphosing light, with the lingering aroma of incense – truly an evocative pleasure to all the senses.”
This was one guest’s impression as they entered the Memorial Chapel for Eternal Echoes on Saturday 12 August 2023 – a sold-out, immersive concert comprising mostly a cappella music presented by the combined choral forces of VOX Cape Town and the Chanticleer Singers who were visiting from Johannesburg.
Taking the 150th anniversary of the birth of Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873–1943) as its starting point, the programme began with the richly sonorous textures of the famous Vespers which were contrasted with the stark minimalism of Sir John Tavener (1944–2013). Tavener’s music was in turn complemented by the lyricism of Tchaikovsky, an important mentor to the young Rachmaninoff, and William Byrd, who played a profound role in the development of polyphony during the Renaissance.
These sublime choral masterpieces, spanning four centuries, painted sonic landscapes of vivid intensity in the candlelit grandeur of the Memorial Chapel. The remaining composers were Georgy Sviridov, Nicolay Kedrov, Eric Whitacre and Craig Courtney – whose moving Ukrainian Alleluia was included as a tribute to that resilient nation, as noted by Richard and John in their pre-concert conversation. The choral voices were augmented by soloists Violina Anguelov-Hobbs (mezzo-soprano) and Liam Burden, whose saxophone improvisations resonated freely in the marvellous acoustic of the Memorial Chapel.
Eternal Echoes was the fourth instalment of VOX’s series of ‘New Soundscapes’ – immersive concerts intended to expose Cape Town’s audiences to fresh choral sounds. Other special touches included a complimentary welcome drink (Hope Distillery Small-Batch Vodka served in loving memory of Melanie Pequeux), subtle projections on the vast east wall of the Memorial Chapel, the old-world aroma of Basilica Incense (with thanks to Richard Haigh), and the incorporation of bells into the evening’s soundworld.
To acknowledge their appreciation to Bishops and the Old Diocesan (OD) Union for hosting this evening of music in the Memorial Chapel, a generous donation was made by the two choirs (whose leaders are Old Diocesans) to the OD Union Bursary Fund.
Interview on Fine Music Radio's 'Cape Diary' 28.07.2023
What you had to say…
“Last night was a triumph of sublime beauty… WOW. Everything was perfect – the setting, the ‘choreography’, and mostly the soundscape. Thank you for providing us with such uplifting joy. So proud of what you achieve through love commitment and hard work.”
“Taking a moment here to applaud the VOX Cape Town choristers in collaboration with John Woodland and Richard Cock, for a sublime performance last night at Bishops Memorial Chapel. Every detail — chiaroscuro lighting to pre-performance vodka — framed a feast of sacred liturgical music. The first six movements of Rachmaninoff’s All-Night Vigil and John Tavener’s austere Funeral Ikos were highlights. Incidentally, the Russian romantic celebrates his 150th this year, and the holy minimalist ten years since his passing. What a treat it was. Bravo!” (Calvin D. Ullrich)
“The concept and the attention to detail on so many levels was extraordinary. The singing was truly breathtaking and could take its place on the international stage!”
“As always, the music produced by these wonderful people was magnificent, but to have it presented in this immersive, magical and mystical manner did indeed take it to a completely elevated plane of experience. This impressive production was clearly in the tradition of son et lumière, the art-form so perfected and utilised by the French, and far too seldom experienced in South Africa. We have our young doctors to thank for their initiative, energy, creativity, technical expertise and intelligence, in orchestrating for us this tour de force of an artistic experience. This is this sort of thing that gives us hope for both the present and future in this amazing and culturally endowed city. Congratulations!” (Ivan Flint)
Did you join us on this choral journey? Did you enjoy the complimentary vodka and the atmosphere beforehand? Was the pre-concert conversation informative? What did you think of the presentation of the music and the singing? Are there ways in which we can enhance your experience next time? Do let us know how we can continue to refine our multisensory presentations and push the Mother City’s musical boundaries by dropping us a line at [email protected]. We’d love to hear from you.
We always appreciate your warm support and enthusiasm at our open rehearsals!
On Monday 31 July, we had the opportunity to take you behind the scenes as we polished our pronunciation, phrasing and choral blend for Eternal Echoes. One of our guests wrote afterwards: “It was wonderful. Like everything VOX touches, it was nectar for the soul.”
What is an open rehearsal? “Are you curious to hear what goes on behind the scenes at a VOX rehearsal, or have you ever wondered how we assemble our immersive choral experiences? Join us for an open rehearsal as we put the finishing touches to the music for Eternal Echoes, share some of the creative discoveries that we have made along the way, and offer a few teasers of what you can expect at the performance. There is no entrance fee and no need to book, but do arrive early to find a good parking spot and a comfortable seat. We’d love to get to know you, so please come and chat to us during the break and afterwards!”