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Thursday, April 17, 2014


Glorious music, brilliantly performed, at a magnificent venue. (Review by Keith Millar)

Glorious music, brilliantly performed, at a magnificent venue was the order of the day as the Durban Symphonic Choir presented their Palm Sunday concert last week-end.

The programme, performed in association with the KZN Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Naum Rousine, consisted of Puccini’s Mass, Messa Di Gloria, and excerpts from Handel’s Messiah.

The venue was the beautiful Neo Romanesque St Joseph’s Cathedral at the Mariannhill Monastery. It is a excellent venue for a concert of sacred choral music with a warm and dynamic acoustic, while its many paintings of biblical scenes offers an air of reverence to the proceedings.

Giacomo Puccini is probably best known for his renowned operas, including La Bohème, Tosca and Madame Butterfly. Messa Di Gloria was first performed in 1878 as a graduation thesis when he was only 22 years old. Despite the success of this performance the work was forgotten as Puccini embarked on his career as a opera composer. It was not until 1952 that it was performed again. Since then it is regularly heard at concerts around the world.

The Durban Symphonic Choir along with the KZNPO tackled this powerful and dramatic work with confidence and skill. It was a memorable and exhilarating performance which left the audience captivated. The superb, melodic, Gloria was particularly enjoyable.

The soloists for this performance were Ndumiso Nyoka (tenor) and Vusi Simelane (baritone). Both are accomplished singers with wonderful voices whose contribution enhanced the excellence of the mass.

The second half of the programme offered excerpts from Handel’s Messiah. Probably amongst the most influential, moving, and best loved music ever composed.Of particular note at this concert was Durban soprano Lauren Dasappa’s compelling performance of I Know That My Redeemer Liveth and the iconic Hallelujah Chorus!

Whatever your religious persuasion there can be few more moving experiences than listening to an inspired choir and orchestra performing this incomparable piece of music. A tear in the eye is guaranteed. 

The Durban Symphonic Choir under the directorship of Dr. Ros Conrad has set itself a high standard of performance. That it meets these standards was evident at this concert and is of great credit to its diverse, music loving membership.

The KZN Philharmonic continues to satisfy with its polished and competent performances while the conducting of Naum Rousine was particularly sympathetic to all the nuances in the splendid music on offer. 

The choir will perform Schubert’s Mass in G with the KZNPO at the Durban City Hall on May 29. An event not to be missed. – Keith Millar