On Saturday 11 December 2021, after nearly two years of exploring innovative ways of staying in touch with their musical communities (while remaining physically distant), VOX Cape Town and early music ensemble Here be Dragons shared their return to the stage with an immersive, folk-inspired concert experience celebrating the festive season.

St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church was transformed into the setting for a globetrotting musical narrative that followed a traveller’s meanderings through a host of familiar and lesser-known music celebrating the seasons of Advent and Christmas. The combined voices and instruments of VOX and Here be Dragons delved into the folk inspirations behind many of the carols we have come to know and love, including The Carol of the BellsI Wonder As I WanderPuer Natus in BethlehemGabriel’s Message and In Dulci Jubilo.

Many of these musical items, which were especially arranged by Jan-Hendrik Harley for this collaboration, were heard again the following morning at the service of the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols, also at St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church.

To mark this first live performance together, the musicians pulled out all the stops to make this an unforgettable multisensory experience. We are grateful to Bill van Rensburg for his generous support of this venture, as well as Natalie Barnard and the Elders of St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church for allowing us to transform our musical “home” into a magical forest setting! A special word of appreciation to Richard Parker for furnishing us with real pine trees – and the fragrance of Christmas!

For the past year-and-a-half, we have been reluctant to host regular rehearsals or present live performances to avoid putting our singers or you, our supporters, at unnecessary risk. However, with the ongoing vaccine rollout and concomitant easing of lockdown restrictions, we hope that this will be the first of many opportunities to share our music with you – safely and responsibly and together in the same space. All performers on stage were vaccinated – or, as we like to say, “VOXinated” – and we are grateful to our audience who, in the face of rising local case numbers, also joined us in ensuring that we had a “fully VOXed” venue.

What our guests had to say…

“A truly wonderful musical experience. At last I feel the spirit of Christmas! Bravo to all concerned.”

“Two really beautiful concerts. Thank you so much for creating these really special occasions.”

“What a simply fabulous concert. Congratulations to everyone. Here be Dragons had the energy to match the Director. Well done to everyone. I was so thrilled to be there.”

“An absolutely magical concert. Everything completely on point. Loved it and was so sad when it ended… Too soon! Well done!”

“Thank you for the most uplifting and memorable performance this morning. My parents absolutely loved the concert – as did I. The programme was so well put together and the choir was just extraordinary, as were the musicians.”

“Thank you for making excellent live performance available to us and for providing us with the opportunity to feel, that despite all the current challenges, Christmas still offers much to be celebrated.”

We’d love to hear what you thought of the performance!