national Arts Festival Banner

Wednesday, November 22, 2017


(The Drakensberg Boys Choir)

Absolute proof that the public will support events that present the music they want to hear. (Review by Keith Millar)

Put together Durban’s superb Baroque 2000 orchestra, the renowned Drakensberg Boys Choir and the music of Handel and Vivaldi and what do you get?

Well, if last Sunday’s concert at the Mariannhill Church of the Monastery is anything to go by, you get something very special indeed.

Durban music lovers, aware that something out of the ordinary was on offer at this concert, turned up in their hundreds. The church was filled to beyond capacity with people sitting in the aisles, on the stairs and even amongst the organ pipes in the choir loft. Absolute proof that the public will support events that present the music they want to hear.

And what they wanted to hear for starters was the inspirational Hallelujah Chorus from George Frideric Handel’s Messiah. Arguably one of the greatest and most loved pieces of music ever written, it was sung with joy and flair by the Drakensberg Boys Choir.

The choir, now under the leadership of Bernard Kruger, who took the Kearsney School Choir to several Choir Olympics Gold Medals during his tenure there, seems to be back to the standard it enjoyed in its glory days under the late Bunny Ashley-Botha.

The support by the Baroque 2000 orchestra was supreme and together they filled the historical Monastery Church with glorious sounds.

Two more pieces from Handel’s Messiah, And He Shall Purify and Oh Thou That Tellest Good Tidings, were also performed and, while not as dramatic as the Hallelujah Chorus, they were certainly performed with considerable élan by Choir and orchestra alike.

The main choral work on the programme was Antonio Vivaldi’s magnificent Gloria in D major RV 589.

Vivaldi composed this work 1715 in Venice for the choir and orchestra of the Ospedale della Pietá. Ostentatiously an orphanage, it was in fact a home for the illegitimate daughters of Venetian nobleman. The institution prided itself in its musical education, and Vivaldi spent most of his career at the school as a music teacher, priest. And virtuoso violinist.

The Gloria is a bright and cheerful work, with many distinctive melodies and rhythms – perfect for the youthful exuberance of the Drakensberg Boys Choir - who performed it with aplomb, superbly backed, once again, by the excellent Baroque 2000 ensemble.

Conductors for the choral works were Bernard Kruger and Kenny Kebak from the Choir School.

The programme unfortunately did not mention the names of the soloists. However, they were all outstanding and sang their parts with confidence and talent.

In addition to the choral works on the programme, the Baroque 2000 ensemble also performed two orchestral masterpieces from George Frideric Handel. The first was his lively and gorgeous Alcina Overture. Then later in the programme they played the Concerto Grosso Op 3 No 4 HWV in F Major.

They performed well in both instances and contributed to the overall festive and jubilant mood of the concert.

The director of Baroque 2000, Michel Schneuwly, shared the good news that the ensemble’s generous sponsorship from Die Rupert Musiekstigting had been approved and planning had begun for a series of eight concerts in 2018.

The final concert for 2017 will take place on December 17 at 11h30 and will feature a Christmas Celebration Programme.

For more information and bookings contact Michel on 031 312 5539 or 082 303 5241 or – Keith Millar