Johannesburg Bach Choir: 2nd Edition Newsletter

A Word from our Chairman

Dear Lover of Choral Music

Our last newsletter seems to have gone down very well and met with positive response. Our mailing list has grown significantly over the last couple of months so a big thanks to everyone who signed up or got their friends and family to do so. If you know of anyone who might be interested in receiving our newsletter, all you need to do is click on the “forward to a friend” link below or email

The Johannesburg Bach Choir’s last set of concerts, “Baroque Sparkle”, comprised works by both JS Bach and JD Zelenka. The latter, a Bohemian composer, was certainly a “first” for us. We believe that we are also the first choir in South Africa to perform a work of his. The response to the concerts was overwhelming – see a selection elsewhere in this newsletter.

Our next set of concerts will be taking place in October and November this year. The work on the programme will be Felix Mendelssohn’s oratorio Elijah, based on events in the life of this prophet of the Old Testament. We are hoping to present this in three different venues, but have not quite finalised the arrangements yet. Please pencil the dates into your diary so long (or press the buttons on your electronic one). There are likely to be price concessions for early bookings. Further details will be made available on our website as soon as we have them:

Next year marks our 50th birthday, and we are planning a big concert to mark the occasion. More information should be available in a forthcoming newsletter.

Reiner Fossati: Chairman


A Resounding Success!

On 21 April the Johannesburg Bach Choir and orchestral players performed several works by Johann Sebastian Bach and Jan Dismas Zelenka in St Martin’s-in-the-Veld in Dunkeld. The same concert was repeated a week later on 28 April at the Bryanston Catholic Church.

Zelenka’s works were new to many members of the audience and comprised a sinfonia concertante, his Miserere ZWV 57 and Lamentations ZWV 53. The works by Bach included an organ prelude, his Cantata 140 (“Wachet auf”) and the final chorale of his Cantata 147 (“Jesus bleibet meine Freude”).

As usual, our conductor, Tim Roberts, did a sterling job and was ably assisted by soprano Melissa Gerber, bass Hendré van Zyl, organist Marnus Greyling and resident accompanist Owen Franklin on harpsichord. Six other instrumentalists accompanied the Choir.

Some of the comments received from our enthusiastic audience.

“I admit I had not heard of Zelenka and found Dave’s extensive comments on him as pleasant a surprise as his music.”

“I thoroughly enjoyed the concert, especially being able to sit back and recognise the hard work that had been put into it.  Tim has taken the choir to new heights.”

“Amazed. Elated. Transfixed. Floating. Inspired.
In harmony with the planet and nature. Could not come down from higher level clouds.
Who needs drugs?
Never heard so much beauty in one afternoon.”
To everyone who attended, your support is much appreciated and we hope you enjoyed it as much as we did.
The next work we’ll be performing will be Mendelssohn’s Elijah. Don’t miss out!


Our multi-talented members ....

Members of the Johannesburg Bach Choir come from all walks of life. Many also have interests quite unrelated to singing. Here, for example, is our group of avid cycling enthusiasts taking a break from the pedals to rehearse for our next concert.

JBC Members mixing up their skills
Left to right: Matthew Kannemeyer, Tim Roberts (our conductor) and Steve Briggs.

Upcoming Events & Announcements

The Choir at work


Our next concerts are planned for the following dates:
  • 27 October
  • 3 & 10 November
Watch this space for more details! Or visit our website
JBC rehearsal in full swing


The Johannesburg Bach Choir is always on the lookout for enthusiastic new singers.

If you are interested in joining our merry crew please visit our website, or contact Pamela Werrell on 011 467 2378 or 082 707 7317. We rehearse on Monday evenings at St Columba’s in Parkview.

Member's Bio

Accompanist: Owen Franklin

Accompanist: Owen Franklin

Owen Franklin grew up in Pietermaritzburg and started piano lessons at the age of six. He was a choirboy at St Alphege's Church, Scottsville, and later studied organ with Errol Slatter in Durban and Barry Smith in Cape Town, where he sang with the St George's Singers. An Anglican priest, he was also Organist & Choirmaster at St Cyprian's Cathedral, Kimberley, for seven-and-a half years, and while working in the UK he occasionally acted as Precentor at Lichfield Cathedral. He has been actively involved with the Royal School of Church Music for over 40 years and has written hymns and composed service music for the church. He is currently one of the organists at the German Lutheran Church in Bryanston, Johannesburg.


Owen Franklin at a JBC rehearsal

Our esteemed accompanist rehearsing at home
Owen vists the font where Bach was baptised in the Georgenkirche in 1685.
Owen and travelling companion, Sam Adams at the font in the Georgenkirche where Bach was baptised  in 1685.
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