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Friday, November 13, 2015


(Dr Robin Walton & Jacques Heyns - front row extreme left – with members of the choir. Pic by Andy & Marlise Pepperell)

The Pietermaritzburg Amateur Music Society (PAMS Choir) will present a performance of Handel's Messiah on November 15 together with other welcome Messiah singers some of whom have come from distant places to augment the choir. The choir will be accompanied by the Pietermaritzburg City Orchestra whose musical director is Dr David Plank.

Handel's Messiah holds an exceptional place in the world of classical choral music. Performances are held every year by Messiah choirs worldwide and the wonder is that the people who regularly perform excellent Messiahs, many of whom have sung the work over 100 times, continue to find new enjoyment, inspiration and solace while singing Messiah. Likewise, the people who come year after year to listen find that no two performances of Messiah are the same. The time in which Handel composed the music to accompany the beautiful words of librettist Jennens seems impossible being 21 to 14 days in different accounts written at the time and confirmed by his friends and colleagues. Handel himself said "Whether I was in my body or out of my body as I wrote it I know not. God knows"

Dr Robin Walton will conduct Messiah 2015. Messiah has been performed annually in Pietermaritzburg maintaining a tradition started in 1864 and continuing virtually unbroken ever since apart from a few years at the end of the 19th century. Every year PAMS Choir performs other concerts of classical choral music giving performing opportunities to young singers and musicians and has sung an extensive repertoire under Walton's musical direction.

For the first time in many years Messiah returned to the PMB City Hall in 2014 with a massed choir of 150 singers and a large orchestra. 2014 reviewer Mary-Ann Hartley wrote "This was an event that from the first note to the last exuded passion, energy and enjoyment on the part of musicians and singers. The real star of the show was Robin Walton whose dedication to music in PMB has helped to keep alive this tradition which means a great deal to many people."

Jacques Heyns, a well known Pietermaritzburg musician who has been 2015 PAMS choir accompanist for rehearsals, will be playing the keyboard continuo during the performance.

This performance will pay tribute to the memory of the renowned Pietermaritzburg choir conductor, Dr Joshua Radebe, who died in July aged 79. Dr Radebe was awarded an honorary doctorate by the then University of Natal for his contribution to the arts in KwaZulu-Natal. The founder of the Pietermaritzburg Choral Society, he is acknowledged as an inspiration to young and old South Africans as a teacher, but more especially for his immeasurable contribution to the promotion of arts and culture in the form of his dedication to choral music. He took the choir to great heights by participating in - and winning - several choral competitions, especially at National Eisteddfod level.

Messiah will be performed on November 15 at 14h30 in the NG Kerk, corner of Beverley and Morcom Roads in Prestbury, Pietermaritzburg (opposite the Botanic Gardens). Tickets R100 booked through Ruth on 033 347 5464 or 072 235 1138 or from Pink Heather (Quarry Centre, Hilton) on 033 343 1965. Remaining tickets can be bought at the door.