The Johannesburg Bach Choir

History


The Johannesburg Bach Choir is greatly indebted to its past Chairman Dave Kinghorn for continuing the history of the Choir from the year 2001 onwards and for allowing it to be published on this website. The copyright of this document clearly remains with Dave.


Part 4

 

2001 to 2013

Getting to our half century

 

We now have a change in author of the Choir’s history. The first 36 years was written by the founding chairman of the choir, Ken Fuller. During 2010, the then chairman Sydney Derman realised that the choir was nearing its 50th birthday and decided to approach David Kinghorn as the chairman who followed Ken Fuller to update the history.

 

By way of an introduction, the current author would like to add a brief footnote of an event that happened in 2000. Although it did not directly affect the choir as a whole, it did involve ten of the choir members and our musical director. This was a “Bach Tour” organised by Colin Yorke and a travel agent. We visited all the important places where Bach lived and worked - which included Eisenach, Arnstadt, Mühlhausen, Weimar and ended in Leipzig. Here we attended a performance of Bach’s Mass in B minor conducted by Prof Georg Biller on the night of the 250th anniversary of Bach’s death. (Note: Prof Biller is the Kantor of the Thomaskirche in Leipzig. He conducted our own Bach Choir in the same work in a joint concert with the Leipziger Vocale-ensemble in the Wits Great Hall in 1998.)

 

I shall stick to basically the same chronological sequence used by Ken Fuller but will deal with financial and other aspects in separate sections.

 

2001

 26 April 2001 saw a performance of Rossini’s Petite Messe Solennelle. The soloists were Elizabeth Frandsen (soprano), Ingrid von Seydlitz (alto), Nicholas Nicolaidis (tenor) and Eric Visser (bass). Also playing were Diane Coutts and Shirley Woods on pianos and Nicholas Head on the harmonium. This time the venue was the Great Hall at Wits University as this was the only place that could supply two concert grand pianos[1]. The organisers had fun and games with the harmonium. We were lucky enough to find a modern Chinese-made harmonium, but when it was delivered and the Wits piano tuners tried to synchronise pitches between the three instruments, the tuners refused point blank to adjust both grand pianos to the harmonium whose tuning was inaccurate in the first place. Fortunately, at the last moment, we were lent a keyboard with a harmonium stop and, joy, it had an adjustable pitch so that tuning to the pianos presented no problem. To illustrate the sound of a metal reed organ, we decided to demonstrate the original harmonium at the start of the concert. There was much merriment when, as the hapless Nicholas Head started to pump the bellows with his feet. the instrument started sliding across the shiny floor when he tried to play on keys that were getting further and further away from him!

The AGM was attended by 53 members and there were 13 apologies. It noted the election of following office bearers who were virtually the same as the previous year and would remain stable apart from minor changes in section leaders until mid-2003

Musical Director: Colin Yorke

Accompanist/répétiteur: Shirley Woods

Chairman: David Kinghorn

Concert Organiser: Reiner Fossati

Membership Secretary: Robbie Welch

Committee minutes secretary: Maya Ingwersen

Section Leaders

            Sopranos: Gabriella Broccardo, Hilary Carman

            Altos: Maya Ingwersen, Flo Morley

            Tenors: Jonathan Kerr, Don Macey

            Basses: Leigh Evans, Michael Sipser

 

 

 

The next concert, on 30 October, took us to yet another new venue, this time the Bryanston Catholic Church. The programme comprised Fauré’s Messe Basse, Cantique de Jean Racine and Requiem. We had 25 orchestral players from the JPO who also played Vaughan Willliam’s Five Variants of Dives and Lazarus.

 

 

 

 

 

2002

 

Our first concert for the year on 23 May took us to yet another new venue. This time it was the St Charles Catholic Church in Victory Park. The choir performed Bach’s Cantata Christ lag in Todesbanden and Mozart’s Mass in C minor “The Great”. The soloists were Talita Strydom (soprano), Renette Bouwer (alto), Nicholas Nicolaidis (tenor) and Hendré van Zyl. Again we had an orchestra of 30 players who were members of the JPO. Although we found the acoustic of the church unfriendly, those present will still remember the exquisite singing of the Domine deus by Talita and Renette.

 

 

 Richard Cock invited the choir to come and sing at the Nation Building Festival in the Standard Bank Arena that took place on 15 September. The massed choirs had about 1,000 singers. The choirs sang works by Weber, Khumalo, Beethoven, Handel along with arrangements by Khumalo and Mugovhani. The concert ended with the National Anthem. The concert proved to be a remarkable experience singing with a large orchestra and a massed choir of over 1,000 singers! For me the most spine-tingling moment was at the end as the choirs were marching off. Quite spontaneously the choirs broke into an impromptu performance of the prayer Bawo Thixo Somandla that reverberated up and down the corridors of the arena.

 

 The concert on 12 November took us to still another venue, this time the Linder Auditorium. The concert opened with John Joubert’s O Lord, the maker of al thing. The anthem was selected to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the composer’s birth in South Africa. Also it was the 50th anniversary of the composition itself. Gabriella Broccardo wrote to the composer telling him of our performance and the choir archive has a charming hand-written reply from him. Other works performed were Mozart’s Coronation Mass and Haydn's Nelson Mass. The soloists were Talita Strydom (soprano), Ingrid von Seydlitz (alto), Nicholas Nicolaidis (tenor) and Hendré van Zyl (bass). We had an orchestra of 19 players who were members of the JPO. The photograph below was taken by a member of the audience. It shows the chairman, David Kinghorn, introducing the concert.

This was to be the last of Colin Yorke’s concerts at this stage. Colin had proved to be a popular conductor. He had first joined as Musical Director in 1990, had left because of work pressure in 1994 and then rejoined at the end of 1996. Colin’s hoped to relocate to the Cape. at the George Cathedral.

 

 

 

2003

 

The early part of the year was spent selecting a new Musical Director. The committee had put forward four possible candidates. The idea was that each of the nominees would take at least one rehearsal and then the choir would vote on the preferred candidate. The nominees were

-        Nicholas Nicolaidis (we knew him and liked him from many concerts as a soloist)

-        Michael Hankinson (then conductor of the JPO)

-        Walter Butt (he had sung as a soloist in 1990 and then gone overseas, gaining experience mainly in Austria.)

-        Dario Broccardo (he had no choral experience but he had played as a percussionist in several concerts. Also, the choir had sung a mass he had composed for his BMus in 1999).

 

The clear winner was Nicholas Nicolaidis, but he had to turn down the offer as he was heading to the UK to further his studies.

Walter Butt emerged second favourite and so was selected.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Walter Butt

 

Walter had been in the Drakensburg Boys Choir School where he had excelled as a treble soloist and young conductor. He then went on to Wits University where he won various scholarships and competitions. After graduating, he furthered his studies in London and then at the University of Vienna where he performed as both singer and conductor. On his return to South Africa he sang and conducted in in Cape Town, Durban and Grahamstown. When he was appointed as Musical Director of the Johannesburg Bach Choir, he was doing his MMus in conducting at Wits as well as lecturing there and at the University of the North West in Potchefstroom.

 

Walter did not conduct a concert in 2003 because we had received three invitations to sing.

 

 

The first was on 13 July to perform Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis with Richard Cock conducting the Johannesburg Festival Orchestra and combining both his Symphony Choir of Johannesburg and our Johannesburg Bach Choir. Soloists were Beverley Chait, Violina Anguelov, Nicholas Nicolaidis and Dawid Kimberg.

 

 

 

The second was to join Richard Cock at the Nation Building Concert that took place on 14 September. Only a few from the choir took part as the eclectic choice of music was not to everyone’s taste. This time the music was by Moerane, Khumalo, Mozart and Verdi. The concert was televised and ended with the National Anthem.

 

 

 

 

 Next were performances in the Johannesburg City Hall on 21 and 23 November of Mahler’s Second Symphony, The Resurrection, with Weiss Doubell conducting the Sasol Pro Musica Orchestra. Soloists were Hanli Stapela (soprano) and Lize Thomas (contralto), with backstage conductor and organist Henning Wagner. A variety of choirs were involved – Pro Musica Opera Chorus, Johannesburg Bach Choir, Musica Mundo Choir, and Pretoria Vocal Arts Choir. A tragi-comic incident occurred during one of the final rehearsals. Sadly, the excellent organ had been much neglected over the years. On this occasion it failed to produce any sound and a technician was summoned. The technician was obviously annoyed at having been called out and proceeded to show his irritation by noisily removing the covers during rehearsal which raised the ire of the conductor. The result was a bit of a slanging match between conductor and technician. Mercifully the organ was coaxed into action and the rehearsal continued.

 

Also in September the choir once again participated in a nation building-concert in the Standard Bank Arena. Eighteen choirs participated in this “Massed Choir Festival” making a combined choir of over 1000 voices.

 

During the year Walter worked hard with the choir at a number of different levels.

-        He was concerned with the quality of the sound the choir was making and spent a long time on this aspect during our warming up exercises.

-        Our relationship with the Parkview Senior School, whose hall we had been using for rehearsals, was becoming strained. The school had wanted to significantly increase our hire fee for the use of the hall. Because Walter was a post graduate student and also lecturing at Wits, he arranged for us to use facilities in the Williams Block (now Wozani Block) adjacent to the Linder auditorium.

-        He was passionate about Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms and spent much time in between other concert rehearsals trying to teach us this work.

-        He was able to recruit a number of young members from Wits students.

 

2004

 

This year was to become the choir’s annus horribilis[2]. An initial manifestation was a clash of management styles between the Chairman and the Musical Director. One of the Chairman’s fundamental philosophies of the choir was that it was run by the committee. The rationale behind this was that musical directors come and go but the choir itself must have management continuity through the committee. A consequence of this was that some of the powers of the musical director were restricted (such as not having a vote at the AGM). The musical director felt that the administration was top heavy and did not meet the flexibility he wanted. An outcome of this conflict was when plans for an early concert in the year were scrapped at the last minute because of failure to reach agreement on the budget.

 

The first appearance of the choir was on 13th May when the choir sang for the Wits College of Medicine’s Graduation ceremony in the Johannesburg City Hall. The choir was paid R1500.

 

Shortly after the committee meeting on 3rd June David Kinghorn stood down from the chairmanship to try to resolve the conflict. Leigh Evans took over as acting chairman until the AGM.

 

 Meanwhile, 2004 was the Choir’s 40th Anniversary and a “Birthday Concert” took place on 13th June in the Wits Great Hall. It was an important concert for our conductor too, as it formed part of his MMus marks. Happily he received both a good mark and his degree. The soloist was Hanli Stapela and there was an orchestra of 24 players from the JPO. The programme listed 50 participating choir members. The audience were treated to a mix of solo, choral and orchestral pieces by Bach, Mozart and Mendelssohn:

-        Bach

Motet: Jesu meine Freude.

Cantata: Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme.

Orchestral Suite No 2 in B minor.

-        Mendelssohn

Psalm 43: Richte mich, Gott.

Hear my prayer / O for the wings of a dove.

-        Mozart

Ave verum corpus.

Misera dove son!

Laudate dominum.

 

The concert broke even thanks entirely to a sponsorship of R10,000 from Esteé Lauder.

 

The AGM was held on 26 July. This proved to be a very stormy one. After Leigh Evans gave the chairman’s report, Sydney Derman was elected the new chairman. A motion was proposed to change the constitution to grant the musical director all voting rights on the management committee as well as to remove section leaders from the management committee. Perhaps the tone of the meeting was best reflected in a brief extract from the minutes. “At one point the exchange between the acting chairman, the newly elected chairman and one of the choir members (who shall remain nameless, but see comment later) became very acrimonious, with loud interjections from other members thrown in. Your scribe was so incredulous and shocked that she did not record exactly what was said.”

 

After the meeting there were a number of resignations and membership dropped to about 40 people. In hindsight the issues facing the choir were

-        The committee believed that the musical director was very talented and had done much to improve the singing quality of the choir. This was offset by tensions between the choir, committee and conductor.

-        With dwindling numbers the choir’s regular income from subscriptions was reduced and thus was having to dip increasingly into reserves to fund day to day expenses. Clearly this was not sustainable in the long term.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Matters were compounded by the next concert held in the Wits Great Hall on 31 October. Buxtehude’s Das neugebor’ne Kindelein and Vivaldi’s Gloria were the works performed. Although it was a success musically, it wasn’t well attended and made a loss of over R16,000.

 

Finally in November the choir made R10,000 by singing in two performances of Beethoven’s Choral Symphony, joining forces with Weiss Doubell’s Pro Musica Choir and Orchestra and the Musica Mundo Choir. The latter sang Dvorak’s Mass on their own in the first part of the concert. The final performance was in the Regina Mundi Church in Soweto which, sadly, was poorly attended.

 

 

So began a very unstable time for the choir with various groups forming, trying to resolve the issues. The implications were severe as reduced numbers decreased income from membership fees.

 

A Special General Meeting was held on 27 November 2004 to discuss the future of the musical director. It was attended by 45 members and resulted in agreeing to have a further committee meeting on 19 January 2005 to resolve their differences.

 

2005

 

There was another special general meeting on 24 January 2005 to discuss the outcome of the committee meeting of the 19th. However this meeting did not have a quorum as there were not enough attendees. However, Sydney Derman did announce his resignation as chairman at this meeting

 

A further general meeting was held on 7 February to elect a new committee. Kathy Whiteley was elected chairman and Stephen Whiteley as Tenor leader.

 

At an extraordinary committee meeting on 26 February held as a result of the musical director walking out of the rehearsal on the 21st saying “the choir should look for a musical director”, the committee unanimously decided to

-        Dismiss the musical director giving him three months’ notice.

-        Give a letter of warning to one of the members whose behaviour had been particularly disruptive since the AGM in August 2004.

 

The AGM was held on 13 June. Twenty seven members attended and there were seven apologies. The chairman’s report noted that since reconvening on 24 January until 28 February only one rehearsal out of a possible six had been devoted to singing – the rest of the time had been devoted to internal bickering. A new committee was elected comprising:

-        Charman: Kathy Whiteley

-        Treasurer: Lucy Wiseman

-        Concert Organiser: Reiner Fossati

-        Secretary: Anthea Jeffrey

-        Soprano Section Leader: Vanessa Pikor

-        Alto Section Leader: Flo Morley

-        Tenor Section Leader: Stephen Whiteley

-        Bass Section Leader: Michael Sipser

 

Fortunately for the choir, Colin Yorke’s plan of going down to be organist at the George cathedral had fallen through and so he was able to step back into being the Musical Director on the agreement that position would be temporary until a new conductor could be found. Also, rehearsals had moved to St Columba’s with Deirdre Campbell as accompanist.

 

 

 

Colin’s first concert was on 22 May at St Martin’s in the Veld with Diane Coutts at the organ and Gill Ziervogel as soprano soloist. The works performed were Fauré’s Messe Basse, Cantique de Jean Racine and Rutter’s Requiem.

 

 

 

 

This picture was taken in 2005 at Maya Ingweson’s house in June 2005. Maya had been an active committee member since 1994 and resigned from the choir in 2004. The picture shows five chairmen of the choir

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Left to right: Sydney Derman, Leigh Evans, Ken Fuller, Kathy Whitely, David Kinghorn

 

 

 

The committee then decided to approach Dario Broccardo, on the left, to become the new Musical Director and Colin Yorke spent several months during the handover period mentoring our new conductor.

 

 

 

 

Dario had matriculated from the National School of the Arts. He then did a BMus at Wits majoring in composition and percussion. Before taking up his post with the Bach Choir, he had been involved as percussionist, flautist and conductor with various groups including the JPO, Pro Musica, National School of the Arts as well as the Johannesburg Youth Orchestra.

 

 Dario’s first concert was on 23 October. The concert took the form of a musical tribute to the Rev Alan Maker who was retiring after 35 years’ service at St Columba’s. Soloists were Elizabeth Frandsen (soprano), Diana Cowan (alto), Nicky Botha (tenor) and Hendré van Zyl (bass). Diane Coutts played the organ and there was a small ensemble of 11 string players. There were 39 singers in the choir.

The works performed were

-        Albinoni Adagio in G minor for strings and organ

-        Franck Panis Angelicus

-        Pergolesi Magnificat

-        Pachelbel Canon for strings

-        Vivaldi Cessate, omai cessate

-        Vaughan Williams Fantasia on Christmas Carols.

 

 

The choir joined forces with Weiss Doubell, the Pro Musica Orchestra, Pro Musica Opera Chorus, Musica Mundo Choir and Coro sine Nomine to sing Gounod’s Messe Solennelle de Sainte Cécile. Two performances were in the Johannesburg City Hall on 25/26 November with one concert in the Regina Mundi Church in Soweto on 27 November.

 

 

2006

 

A new innovation was started this year with the introduction of newsletters and six were produced during the year. Another was a slight change in the ladies’ uniform as a result of running out of blouses worn previously. The blouses were changed to white shirts that were worn with a scarf.

 

 The first concert of the year was on 30 April at St Martin’s-in-the-Veld when Dario conducted Mozart’s Requiem. Soloists were Janine Eckhardt (soprano), Aukse Trinkunas (alto), Nicholas Nicolaidis (tenor) and Hendré van Zyl (bass). Diane Coutts played the organ.

 

A Special General Meeting was held in 22 May to amend the Constitution. The reason was to reflect changes to the Income Tax Act in terms of the choir being defined as a Public Benefit Organisation.

 

 

The AGM was held on 7 August. The entire committee was re-elected unopposed for the following year. Stephen Whiteley was also allocated the task of Membership Secretary. The financial report showed a marked improvement with a surplus of R14 580, raising the accumulated surplus to R78 765.

 

 The next concert was a twofold experiment to

1.      Work in conjunction with COACH (Coalition of Anglican Children’s Homes) for joint fundraising and trying to expand our audience base through combined publicity.

2.      See if we could pull crowds by giving the same concert on different days. The concerts were held on 18 and 19 November. The conductor was Dario Broccardo with soloists were Talita Strydom (soprano), Aukse Trinkunas (alto), Nicholas Nicolaidis (tenor) and Hendré van Zyl (bass). Diane Coutts played the organ.

The works performed were

-        Mozart Coronation Mass.

-        Bach Cantata 150 Nach dir, Herr.

-        Haydn Missa Brevis, “Little Organ Mass”.

 

 The choir also sang Mozart’s Requiem with Weiss Doubell and the Pro Musica group in November.

 

It was noted with regret that Deirdre Campbell retired as accompanist at the end of the year because of ill health. She was to die of cancer in April 2008.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2007

 

The St Stithians School Chapel was the venue for the concert on 20 May of a performance of Haydn’s Creation. The conductor was Dario Broccardo. The soloists were Talita Strydom (soprano) singing the parts of Gabriel and Eve, Don Boroughs (tenor) as Uriel and Hendré van Zyl (bass) as Raphael and Adam. Diane Coutts played the organ. Also Héloïse Murdoch, the choir’s new and highly talented accompanist, performed Haydn’s Piano Concerto Op 21. The concert was supported by 11 orchestral players. The choir numbered 52 singers.

 

 

 

The AGM was held on 27 August. There were 38 attendees with 9 apologies. The committee was re-elected but with one change. Anthea Jeffrey was to be secretary until 31 December after which Jane Abrahams would take over until the next AGM. Again improved financial stability was reported with a net surplus for the year of R40 587 bringing the accumulated surplus up to R119 352. Clearly the team of choir committee and conductor were working very well as a team.

 

 It was back to St Martin’s-in-the-Veld for our concert on 18 November. The conductor was Dario Broccardo with soloists Talita Strydom (soprano), Tina Tshupane (alto), Don Boroughs (tenor) and Hendré van Zyl (bass). Diane Coutts played the organ. Also Héloïse Murdoch on piano and four woodwind players assisted. The choir comprised 44 singers.

 

Works performed were

-        Bach Motet Lobet den Herrn.

-        Broccardo Missa Sancti Ursii. This was a new work by our conductor.

-        Mozart Missa Brevi in D.

-        Schubert Mass in G.

 

2008

 

 The first concert in 2008 was on 25 May at St Martin’s in the Veld. The conductor was Dario Broccardo with soloists were Talita Strydom (soprano), Tina Tshupane (alto), Don Boroughs (tenor) and Hendré van Zyl (bass). Charlotte van der Merwe played the organ. 46 choir members sang Mozart’s Spatzenmesse followed by Handel’s Coronation Anthems.

 

The AGM took place on 3 August when the following office bearers were elected

Chairman: Sydney Derman

Concert Organiser: Reiner Fossati

Treasurer: Lucy Wiseman

Secretary: Jane Abrahams

Membership secretary: Gisela Vetter

Section Leaders: Vanessa Pikor (soprano), Flo Morley (alto), George Bromley (tenor) and Michael Sipser (bass)

 

The second concert was a joint project in the Johannesburg City Hall on 25 and 26 November of Gounod’s, Messe Solonnelle de Sainte Cécille with Weiss Doubell conducting the Sasol Pro Musica Orchestra. A variety of choirs were involved – Pro Musica Opera Chorus, Johannesburg Bach Choir, Musica Mundo Choir, and Coro sine Nomine.

 

This was the last concert for Kathy Whiteley, our chairman. She retired at the end of the year and moved to Sabie, along with her husband Stephen, who had served as Treasurer from 1994 to 2000 as well as Tenor Section Leader from 2005. Sydney Derman took over as acting chairman.

2009

 

 The first concert in 2009 was on 19 April at St Columba’s Church. The conductor was Dario Broccardo with soloists Talita Strydom (soprano), Elizabeth Frandsen, (alto) Don Boroughs (tenor) and Hendré van Zyl (bass). Kevin Kraak played the organ. 46 choir members sang Byrd’s Ave Verum Corpus, Mozart’s Missa Brevis (K192) followed by Vierne’s Messe Solennelle.  

 

 

 

 

 

A mid-year concert was given at St Martin’s-in-the-Veld entitled “a bouquet of Opera Choruses”. The conductor was Dario Broccardo with soloists were Aukse Trinkunas (alto) and Kevin Derman (bass). Héloïse Clifford (née Murdoch) accompanied on the piano whilst Kevin Kraak played the organ.

 

 

Later Héloïse Clifford and her new husband emigrated to the USA and she was replaced by Aletta van Rooyen.

 

The AGM took place on 3rd August when the following office bearers were elected

Chairman: Sydney Derman

Concert Organiser: Reiner Fossati

Treasurer: Lucy Wiseman

Secretary: Jane Abrahams

Membership secretary: Vanessa Pikor

Section Leaders: Vanessa Pikor (soprano), Flo Morley (alto), Ilario Broccardo (tenor) and Michael Sipser (bass)

 Dario Broccardo had a conflict of interests as he effectively double booked for the November concert. The committee accepted his proposal that the choir should have a guest conductor, Matthew Vlok. So the final concert for the year took place at St Martin’s-in-the-Veld with Matthew Vlok conducting on 15 November. Soloists were Talita Laubscher [née Strydom] (soprano), Aukse Trinkunas (alto), Javan Cloete (tenor) and Hendré van Zyl (bass). Diane Coutts introduced the programme by playing two organ pieces, Albinoni’s Adagio in D and the English composer Alan Wilson’s Pim’s Toccata. The main work of the concert was Haydn’s Nelson Mass.

 

 

 

2010

 

This year started badly for the choir with Dario Broccardo getting a job offer for a permanent teaching post in Grahamstown with many benefits. Reluctantly the choir accepted his resignation as he had become very popular.

 

 The committee had received an invitation to perform a joint concert with the Randburg Symphony Orchestra. The concert was entitled “An Easter Celebration” and was performed in the Linder Auditorium on 7 March. The guest conductor was Tim Roberts who conducted the choir with an orchestra of 40 players. The works performed were

-        Copland Outdoor Overture

-        Brahms Variation on a theme by Haydn (excerpts)

-        Mozart Ave Verum

-        Handel  Messiah (Hallelujah Chorus, Worthy is the Lamb, Amen)

-        Verdi  The Force of Destiny Overture

-        Mozart Requiem (Introit, Dies Irae, Rex Tremendae, Confutatis)

-        Butterworth  On the banks of green willow

-         Bach St Matthew Passion (Wir setzen uns mit Tränen nieder).

 

As a result of working with him, Tim Roberts was appointed the new conductor of the Choir.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Tim Roberts

 

Tim Roberts, describing himself, wrote: “My first encounter with music was on Wednesday afternoons at primary school, where we all sang. I can remember this being a pleasant way to pass the time. I had a reasonable voice and was accepted as a chorister at the Catholic Cathedral in Birmingham, U.K. There I became aware of the wonderful world of liturgical choral music. I can remember composers such as Lassus, Palestrina, Byrd, and many others, and by the time I was fourteen I was pretty hooked on music. At school I took to playing the oboe and by the time I was 16 I was committed to trying to live a life earning a living through music. I studied Oboe at the Royal Academy of Music in London, where I was surrounded by some extremely talented musicians, and my fate was sealed! There then started the challenging life of playing music for a living. Then as now this required the musician to accept some hardships, a lot of travel, and a huge amount of satisfaction. I came to work in South Africa in 1994, and have worked with various orchestras, including the State Theatre Orchestra, the Chamber Orchestra of South Africa, and the Johannesburg Festival Orchestra. Wearing my conducting hat I am delighted to be the current conductor of the Johannesburg Bach Choir, the Artistic Director of Apple Green Opera, and the current conductor of the South African Ballet Theatre Ensemble. I also conduct in Europe. I receive financial support from Apple Green, to assist me in my conducting work, and feel privileged to still have the opportunity to make music. On the subject of making music I think the role of the performer and conductor is to convey the emotion within the music to the audience, in the hope that they also share these emotions. This I think makes for the most successful concerts.”

As the new conductor, Tim made his debut at our next concert at St Martin’s-in-the-Veld on 25 July. Soloists were Hanli Stapela (soprano), Aukse Trinkunas (alto), Sandile Mabaso (tenor) and Kevin Derman (bass). Kevin Kraak played the organ. Works performed were Vaughan Williams Antiphon and Rossini’s Stabat Mater.

 

The AGM took place on 23 September when the following office bearers were elected

Chairman: Sydney Derman

Concert Organiser:Reiner Fossati

Treasurer: Lucy Wiseman

Secretary: Jane Abrahams

Membership secretary: Pamela Werrell

Section Leaders: Vanessa Pikor (soprano), Flo Morley (alto), Dieter Nolte (tenor) and Tony Cantrell (bass)

 

 The final concert was again at St Martin’s on 28 November. This time it was a form of nine lessons and carols entitled Christmas Words and Music. Tim Roberts conducted and Kevin Kraak played the organ. Thirty-six members sang.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The table below described the programme.

 

Objective

Work

Composer / Author

Organ Prelude

Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme

Bach

Choir

O come, O come Emmanuel

Arr. Sir David Willcocks

Reading

An ordinary night

Max Lucado

Choir

Nativity Carol

Rutter

Reading

From one father to another

Max Lucado

Choir

Hodie Christus natus

Palestrina

Choir & Audience

O little town of Bethlehem

Trad. Arr. Vaughan Williams

Reading

St Luke’s Gospel Chapter 2

 

Choir

Jauchzet frohlocket

Weinachts oratorium, Bach

Reading

The legend of the Christmas spider

Anon.

Choir

Silent Night

Arr. Sir David Willcocks

Choir

The truth from above

Trad. Arr. Vaughan Williams

Reading

Christmas in the Antarctic

Dr Edward Wilson

Choir

Hallelujah Chorus

Messiah, Handel

Reading

St Matthew’s Gospel Chapter 2

 

Choir & Audience

As with gladness men of old

Arr. Sir David Willcocks

Reading

The journey of the Magi

T.S.Eliot

Choir

A merry Christmas

Arr. Arthur Warrell

Choir & Audience

Once in royal David’s city

Arr. Sir David Willcocks

Organ Postlude

In dulci jubilo

Bach

 

2011

The first concert was at St Martin’s-in-the-Veld on 17 April. There were 35 choir singers. The concert opened with Rutter’s The Lord bless you and keep you. This was followed by Fauré’s Cantique de Jean Racine and Requiem.

 

 

 

 

 

 Next came Monteverdi’s Vespers on 13 August. The performance was at the Trinity Methodist Church in Linden. The conductor was Tim Roberts with soloists Linelle Engelbrecht (soprano), Yvette Elliott (soprano), Don Boroughs (tenor) and Hendré van Zyl (bass). Kevin Kraak was at the organ. There was a small orchestra of 10 players including five recorders. The choir numbered 55 in all with eleven singers who joined specifically for the opportunity of singing this work.

 

 

 

 

The AGM was held in September. The choir elected the committee comprising

Chairman: Reiner Fossati

Treasurer: Lucy Wiseman

Secretary: Jane Abrahams

Membership Secretary: Pamela Werrell

Section Leaders

            Sopranos; Vanessa Pikor

            Altos: Flo Morley

            Tenors: Dieter Nolte

            Basses: Tony Cantrell

 

 

 

 

 

 The next concert was back at St Martin’s on 6 November. This was an all Rutter programme. Tim Roberts conducted with Talita Laubscher (soprano), Helen Vosloo (flute) and Dr Theo van Wyk (organ). There were 47 choir members singing. Works performed were

-        Organ Prelude

-        I will sing with the spirit

-        Gloria

-        Suite Antique scored for flute and organ

-        The Lord bless you and keep you

-        For the beauty of the earth

-        Requiem

·          Pie Jesu

·          Sanctus

·          The Lord is my Shepherd

·          Lux Aeterna.

 

The year ended with another Christmas Words and Music event. Some of the choir went to sing a shortened programme (without readings) at the Huis Moria in Krugersdorp on Fri 3 December. Owen Franklin conducted from the piano and those who sang joined the Home’s sumptuous Christmas lunch. The complete performance was given at St Martin’s on 17 December with Tim Roberts conducting and Owen Franklin on the organ made up from

 

Objective

Work

Composer / Author

Choir & Audience

O come, O come Emmanuel

 

Reading

The foundation Stone

Rudolph Steiner

Choir

Lief Kindjie Klein

 

Reading

Stable Song

J. Nichols

Choir

Once in royal David’s city

 

Reading

Riding of the Kings

E.Farjeon

Choir

How brightly shines the morning star

 

Reading

Christmas

J. Betjeman

Choir & Audience

Away in a manger

 

Reading

Eddie’s Service

R. Kipling

Choir

God rest you merry gentlemen

 

Reading

On the cards

Anon.

Choir

Quem pastores

 

Choir

Mariawiegelied

 

Reading

Mary’s Prayer

M. Lucado

Choir

A virgin most pure

 

Reading

St John’s Gospel Chapter 1

 

Reading

Goose for the Cratchits

C. Dickens

Choir

Blessed be that maid Mary

 

Choir & Audience

Hark! The herald angels sing

 

 

Instead of a black skirt and white blouse a sub-committee came up with the idea of a black kaftan-like dress with a white scarf.

 

2012

The first concert for the year took place in the Trinity Methodist Church in Linden on 9 June. Tim Roberts added two new works to the choir’s repertoire

-         Bach Cantata 21 Ich hatte viel Bekümmernis

-         Purcell Ode to St Cecelia  Hail bright Cecelia

The soloists were Talita Laubscher (soprano), Schoeman Smit (countertenor), Don Boroughs (tenor) and Hendré van Zyl (bass). Diane Coutts played the organ with Owen Franklin on harpsichord. There was also a small orchestra with two violins, a viola, a cello, two recorders and a timpanist.

 

 

 

 The same group without the orchestra repeated the Bach Cantata 21 on 24th June as part of the Kantatengottesdienst am 1-Sonntag nach Trinitas 2012 at the Thomaskirche in Bryanston.

 

The choir bade a sad farewell to Aletta van Rooyen, our accompanist and stand-in choirmaster at the end of March (she had recently married and become Mrs de Winter). We were happy to be able to appoint Owen Franklin as her replacement.

 

In April Anne Young was nominated the choir’s Archivist,

 

The AGM was held on 10th September. The following committee was elected

            Chairman: Reiner Fossati

            Treasurer: Lucy Wiseman

            Secretary: Jane Abrahams

            Membership secretary: Pamela Werrell

            Section Leaders

                        Soprano: Pamela Werrell

                        Alto: Flo Morley

                        Tenor: Peter Fincham

                        Bass: Tony Cantrell

 No one had been nominated for Concert Organiser and it had been decided to split this amongst Reiner Fossati, Tim Roberts and Jane Abrahams with assistance from Kevin Martin (tickets), Steve Briggs and Loraine Gordon (marketing).

 

St Martins-in-the-Veld was the venue of our next concert on 14 October. Tim Roberts conducted with soloists Talita Laubscher (soprano), Yvette Elliot (Soprano), Tina Tshupane (Alto), Don Boroughs (tenor) and Hendré van Zyl (bass). Marnus Greyling was at the organ and Owen Franklin played the harpsichord. The works performed were Mozart’s Coronation Mass and parts of Handel’s Dixit Dominus.

 

The choir repeated the Coronation Mass as part of the service at the Fourways Anglican Church on 28 October.

 

The choir sang another of its Christmas Words and Music at St Martin’s-in-the-Veld on 25 November with Tim Roberts conducting and Owen Franklin at the organ. This concert was repeated at the clubhouse of the Waterfall Estate on 1st December.

 

 

 

 

 

2013

 

Our first concert in 2013 was taking part in a fundraising effort for the Rand Epileptic Association at St Columba’s Church on 24th February. There were a number of groups participating. The Bach Choir sang For unto us a child is born and the Hallelujah Chorus from Handel’s Messiah. We also sang Mozart’s Ave Verum and Bach’s Jesus bleibet meine Freude.

 

 This was followed by two performances in April, the first at St Martins-in-the-Veld, and the second in the Bryanston Catholic Church. Again Tim Roberts introduced not only a new work into the choir’s repertoire but was to give the first performance in South Africa of Zelenka’s Miserere. Soloists were Melissa Gerber (soprano) making her debut and Hendré van Zyl with Marnus Greyling at the organ and harpsichord. There was a small group of orchestral players. The full programme was

1.      Bach:Organ prelude BWV 596. This was performed by Marnus Greyling and was based on a work by Vivaldi.

2.      Zelenka: Miserere ZWV 57

3.      Zelenka: Symphonia ZWV 189. This was a virtuosic piece for the orchestra. Tim had downloaded a facsimile score which then had to be transcribed. Not only that but he had to devise the harpsichord part as Zelenka had not bothered to write down his own part! This, too, was a first performance in South Africa.

4.      Bach Cantata 140 Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme

5.      Bach Cantata 147 final chorus  Jesus bleibet meine Freude

 

The choir sang something completely different in July. A young man called Herman decided he wanted a choir to sing whilst he proposed to his fiancé. He surfed the internet to one choir and hit upon the Johannesburg Bach Choir. After due negotiation with the Chairman, “terms and conditions” were agreed that resulted in a donation of R1000.00. The event took place by candlelight in the St Columba’s Hall. The proposal music was Come what may from the film Moulin Rouge. Happily the fiancé accepted! The choir was in trouble with the church administration the next morning as the candle holders allowed a large amount of wax to drip onto the floor. Whilst the wax was being scraped up by choir members, one of the cleaners came and asked if she could have the scrapings. When asked why we were told that she was going to make floor polish out of the wax. So, rather than having damaged the floor, the wax did no harm and good relations with the church were restored!

 As part of fund raising for the choir’s 50th anniversary, the choir as a whole was asked to perform a “Words and Music” concert by the Anthroposophical Group at the Waldorf School in September. The programme was a light-hearted one ranging from:

-        music for Oboe and Keyboard played by Tim Roberts and Owen Franklin,

-        amusing readings by Tim,

-        two countertenor arias sung by Schoeman Smit,

-        items sung by the choir.

The Anthroposophical Group was able to make a donation of R10,360.00 to the choir as a result of the concert

 

 

In tight economic conditions sponsorship is difficult to get. A number of other fundraising initiatives have also been implemented, largely through entreaty by our conductor. These include

        a lending library where choir members donate books that can then be loaned to other choir members for R10.00 per book.

        Recitals. This has been primarily the brain child of Owen Franklin who gets a fellow musician to play with him for a gathering. There is a charge that includes tea and recital.

        Selling jam and other items such as DVD’s.

In total the choir raised R12,213.00 through the above and the funds were further swelled by an anonymous donation of R20,000.00.

 

 The next concert was Mendelssohn’s Elijah. There were three performances with the aim of trying to attract a wider audience:

1.      St Martin’s-in-the-Veld, Rosebank (27th October)

2.      St Margaret’s Bedfordview (3rd November)

3.      St Thomas’, Linden (10th November)

The best performance was in St Thomas’ as the acoustic was the most favourable.

 

Elijah is a very long oratorio, so to keep the overall concert time manageable, our conductor, Tim Roberts, introduced a “narrator”. Owen Franklin read the cut arias and choruses. The soloist was Aubrey Lodewyk (baritone) as Elijah and Marnus Greyling played the organ.

 

The choir was approached by three different groups to sing carols at the end of the year, but for various reasons nothing came to fruition.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



[1] The issue of pianos was still a sore point with the Choir’s concert organisers. After arriving at the City Hall in 1995 for final rehearsals of the Beethoven’s Choral Fantasy, we were astounded to find no piano. It had been removed as part of the disposal of the City Hall to the Gauteng Legislature. This prompted a crisis that was only solved at the last minute by the kind intervention of Richard Cock who arranged to loan the choir one from the SABC.

 

[2] Phrase used by Chairman, Kathy Whiteley, in her Chairman’s  report for 2004/2005



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