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Tuesday, March 26, 2013


Bright and beautiful music, excellently performed, and thoroughly entertaining. (Review by Keith Millar)

The 100 year old, St Joseph’s Cathedral in Mariannhill was the venue for the Durban Symphonic Choir’s Palm Sunday concert. With its abundance of beautiful frescos on the walls and ceiling, and with light streaming in from its many stained glass windows this bright and cheerful cathedral was a perfect backdrop for an afternoon of inspired singing.

The Durban Symphonic Choir under the directorship of the renowned Ros Conrad was joined for the performance of John Rutter’s Mass of the Children by the Durban Girl’s College Choir and by soloists Camilla Van Der Merwe and Richard Salmon. Accompaniment was by the KZN Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Naum Rousine.

John Rutter is a prolific composer of memorable sacred choral music and his Mass of the Children, one of his more recent works, certainly falls into this category. It is an engaging work which is more gentle and sunny than rousing and dramatic, but it remains unmistakably Rutter in style. The addition of the children’s choir adds texture and charm to the piece. 

Both choirs were certainly in excellent voice. The Durban Symphonic Choir, while possibly a little weak in male voices, is an accomplished group who sang with power and verve, while the Durban Girl’s College Choir showed why they are regarded as one of the leading school choirs in the province. Their performance and demeanour were a credit to their school and their director RonĂ©l Perks. The two soloists were also in fine form and sang their parts with gusto and skill. The KZNPO provided their usual expert and sympathetic accompaniment and played an important part in ensuring that this a very satisfying and entertaining performance.

The second half of the programme offered Easter extracts from Handel’s Messiah with the highlight been the incomparable Hallelujah chorus.

There is little that can be said in praise of Handel’s Messiah that has not been repeated many times before. One of the best known and most loved compositions of all time, it never fails to stimulate and move an audience – and yesterday’s performance was no exception.  

The Durban Symphonic Choir sang with enthusiasm and vigour which was matched by soloists Mhlaba Buthelezi, Nomalungelo Zubane and Langelihle Mngxati. All three are products of the Opera Studio and Choral Academy (OSCA) at UKZN and their performances emphasised the outstanding quality of singers produced by this institution.

One of John Rutter’s best known hymns is called All Things Bright and Beautiful and this would be an apt description of this concert. Bright and beautiful music, excellently performed, and thoroughly entertaining. The extended standing ovation at the conclusion of the performance was richly deserved. – Keith Millar