“In South Africa, the Karoo is always ‘over the mountains’. Wherever you come from, you must cross high blue mountains by dangerous passes that corkscrew up into the sky and then let you down again on the other side. It is very beautiful. It is very big. It is very dry – except when rivers run in flood and whole towns could be swept away. It is the heartland of a nation and the stone heart of a continent.” – The Time Trackers

Strap up your veldskoene and join VOX Cape Town on another musical journey – this time, to the expansive Karoo in an all-South African programme featuring music by Péter Louis van Dijk, Hans Huyssen, Jan-Hendrik Harley and Denise Onen.

Our musical postcard will evoke the rugged landscapes and vibrant heritage of this remarkable region, from the San-inspired rhythms of Péter Louis van Dijk (Horizons and the San Gloria) to the ‘awe, wonder and environmental existentialism’ captured in a new work composed by audio alchemist Denise Onen (Usque ad sidera tellus). We can’t wait to give voice to the first performance of an a cappella choral cycle written by Hans Huyssen (Weggewerp) that incorporates poems by W. E. G. Louw and C. Louis Leipoldt and was inspired by scribblings on the walls of an abandoned Karoo cottage.

Let your senses awaken as we travel down dusty roads and marvel at sparkling night skies. Join us in the morning for moerkoffie and rusks, or in the evening for a glass of muscadel, and be seduced by the timeless whispers of this unforgiving landscape. A pre-concert talk, 45 minutes before each performance, will unpack the music on offer. For this fifth instalment of VOX’s series of ‘New Soundscapes’, immersive concerts designed to expose Cape Town’s audiences to fresh choral sounds, we return to our roots.

VOX Cape Town and John Woodland
Mikyle Adams (organ)
Catherine Stephenson (flute), Ashlin Grobbelaar (cello), Chris Njapha (cello)

Chris Burgess, Laudice Domingo, Amy-Joy Bailey, Ruben Botha (percussion)

Saturday 14 October 2023
St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, De Waterkant
R240 | R180 (seniors and students)
Bookings via Quicket: 11 AM and 8 PM

These two performances will also celebrate the publication of The Time Trackers, a children’s book set in the Tankwa Karoo and written by award-winning author Lesley Beake. The proceeds from book sales will support the work of local non-profit organisation Children’s Book Network. Shortly after the morning performance, Lesley will be in conversation with John Woodland to discuss how the book came to be and the important work that CBN does to inspire our young communities to read.

You may recognise the poster which has once again been designed by our talented soprano Vera Vuković! It is intended to complement (and contrast) our previous visual identity for Eternal Echoes. Photograph courtesy of Leslie Jacobs

Featured composers and compositions

We are thrilled to introduce you to the quartet of local composers whose swirling soundscapes and spirited rhythms will feature in Timeless Whispers. The Karoo has been a major stimulus for all four composers – from its landscapes and languages to its sands and skies – and most of the music we will be singing has been especially written for us or has never been heard before! Don’t miss this opportunity to celebrate the timeless allure of this extraordinary region – in musical whispers that span generations and geological eras.

  • Hans Huyssen, who wrote the choral cycle Weggewerp for us in 2019/2020. Although delayed by the Covid-19 pandemic, this will be the first performance of the work, ahead of Hans’s 60th birthday celebrations in 2024.
  • Denise Onen, an exciting young composer, who has written a new composition entitled Usque ad sidera tellus (Earth rising up to the stars) especially for this performance.
  • Jan-Hendrik Harley, whose Karoo Polfyntjies for flute and two cellos (with drumkit obbligato) will receive its first performance. We have previously worked with Jan-Hendrik for Follow That Star and made virtual recordings of his arrangements and compositions.
  • Péter Louis van Dijk, who celebrates this 70th birthday this year. We will be singing his well-known compositions Horizons and the San Gloria, both of which are inspired by vibrant San rhythms.

By performing this music and commissioning new choral works, VOX demonstrates its commitment to contemporary South African music and aims to share this excitement with local musicians and the music-loving public.

(Clockwise from right) Denise Onen, Jan-Hendrik Harley, Hans Huyssen, Péter Louis van Dijk