The 80-strong Johannesburg Bach Choir presents two beautiful choral works this August – Gabriel
Fauré’s haunting Requiem and Antonio Vivaldi’s dramatic Magnificat - for two performances only.
Both concerts are at 3pm; the first in the tranquil setting of St Martins-in-the-Veld, Dunkeld
on Sunday 5 August and the second in the more modern Thomaskirche, Bryanston on Sunday 12 August.
Led by the choir’s musical director Tim Roberts and accompanied on the organ by Ruth Coggin,
both concerts will feature two outstanding local soloists, baritone Hendré van Zyl and soprano
Esté Meerkotter. Tickets at just R140 are available via Quicket.co.za, from Margaret Zappalà
on 076 022 7918, or at the door.
Speaking about the concerts Roberts said: “We’re delighted that our recently expanded and
revitalised choir, which now numbers over 80 singers, will be performing one of the most popular
works in the choral canon, Fauré’s Requiem, for Joburg audiences in our second 2018 concert this August.
Also on the programme is one of Vivaldi’s lesser-known works, his short but dynamic and engaging Magnificat.
Together they make for an unmissable programme.”
Gabriel Fauré was born in France in 1845. His musical talent was spotted early and he studied
in Paris from the age of nine with a range of teachers, including Camille Saint-Saëns. Known for
his Pavane and nocturnes, Fauré’s Requiem in D Minor in seven movements is probably his most famous
work and premiered in Paris in 1888. He subsequently revised it for concert performances and the final
version we know today was first performed in 1900.
Fauré achieved much professional success in middle age and was recognised as the leading
composer of his generation, but during the final years of his life he suffered from increasing and
debilitating deafness. In 1920, at the age of 75, he was awarded the Grand-Croix of the French
Légion d’honneur. He died in 1924 and was given a full state funeral, at which his beautiful Requiem was performed.
Acknowledged as one of the greatest composers of the Baroque period, Antonio Vivaldi was born in
Italy in 1678. His father taught him to play the violin and at the age of 25 he was ordained into the
priesthood. Vivaldi composed many of his earlier works for the all-female music ensemble of the children’s
home where he worked. His Magnificat in G Minor, containing nine movements, was composed around the years
1717 to 1719 and he rearranged it numerous times until the 1730s.
He composed over 40 operas but is probably best known today for his sonatas and concertos, including
The Four Seasons. Vivaldi left his native Venice in 1740, hoping to find employment at the court of
Emperor Charles VI in Austria. However, soon after his arrival in Vienna the Emperor died. Although
he had achieved considerable success during his lifetime and his influence was felt across Europe,
due to changing musical tastes in the 18th century Vivaldi died in poverty in 1741. No music was performed
at his funeral and he was buried in a simple grave in Vienna.
Baritone Hendré van Zyl studied classical singing with Professor Werner Nel in Potchefstroom. Since
his debut as soloist in May 2002 in works by JS Bach and WA Mozart, he has appeared regularly at concert
venues throughout South Africa with local and international conductors in works by a wide variety of
composers. Focusing largely on music from the Baroque and Classical periods, recent performances include
Bach’s Christmas Oratorio, St John‘s Passion, St Matthew‘s Passion and Mass in B Minor, Handel’s Messiah
and the Magnificat by Bach, Vivaldi and Mendelssohn. In these performances he appeared as a soloist with
the Pretoria Bach Choir, the Choir of St John’s College, Johannesburg, the Symphony Choir of Johannesburg
and the Chanticleer Singers.
Soprano Esté Meerkotter studied flute and vocal performance and now freelances as a full-time musician,
while continuing her vocal studies with Nic Nicolaidis. She has been performing with the Chanticleer Singers
since 2012 as a regular soloist, and has also appeared with the Pretoria Bach Choir and the KZN Philharmonic
Orchestra in Handel's Messiah, Bach's Magnificat and Vivaldi's Magnificat. She conducts the high school and
senior primary school choirs of Trinityhouse Little Falls, where she also develops young musicians. These
August concerts mark her debut with the Johannesburg Bach Choir.