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Monday, October 8, 2018


(Evelien Ballantine)

Fitting tribute and farewell to a much-loved musician and friend to many. (Review by Keith Millar)

Sunday’s Baroque 2000 concert was tinged with sadness as it was held in memory of the late Simon Milliken, a founder member of the group, who was brutally murdered while bird-watching in Durban’s Burman Bush Nature Reserve recently.

Milliken adored bird-watching and nature in general and so to honour his passion and his life, the concert programme was entitled Nature and Birds, and most of the music performed was based on this theme.

The concert was held at the St Mary’s Anglican Church in the heart of the suburb of Greyville. Simon Milliken was a member of the Church Bell ringers at this parish and the concert opened with peal of the bells - which led straight into Michael Corrette’s (1707 - 1795) Carillon Pour Les Morts, a sad and reflective requiem for the dead. It was a profound and moving start to the concert.

While the overall atmosphere at the concert may have been tinged with sadness, Milliken was after all a much loved and respected person and musician, the enhanced Baroque 2000 ensemble nevertheless played with dynamism, passion, reverence and, possibly, a tear or two.

This approach was particularly evident in their excellent performance of the beautiful and energetic Sweet Bird Aria from Georg Frideric Handel’s Pastoral Ode, L’Allegro, Il Penseroso ed il Moderato. It was sung by Cape Town soprano Elsabé Richter who has glorious, clear and effortless voice. Also featured in this piece was a memorable performance by flautist Evelien Ballantine. This piece was without a doubt one of the highlights of the full programme.

Elsabé Richter also showed her considerable vocal skills in Jean-Baptiste Drouart de Bousset’s (1662 – 1725) beautiful pastoral song Pourquoy Doux Rossignol. Singing with only harpsichord, violincello and flute, Richter certainly was the Nightingale of the title of the work.

Evelien Ballantine was the soloist in the first of two Vivaldi works on the programme. She showed splendid virtuosic skills performing Il Gardellino (The Gold Finch). It was a busy afternoon for Ballantine as she played a leading part in most of the works with the flute often being used to imitate birds.

Also, on the programme was the magnificent Les Élémens (The Elements) by Jean-Féry Rebel (1666 – 1747). This work takes audiences on a dramatic journey through earth, fire, wind, water, lighting and storms. It features flutes, oboes, bassoon and a wind machine which provides everything from a gale force wind to a gentle summer breeze.

The other work by Antonio Vivaldi (1678 – 1741) on the programme was the popular Four Seasons - Allegro from Spring. This magnificent piece led straight into the moving Les Pleurs (In Tears) by M De Sainte Colombe, with concertmaster Ralitza Macheva as soloist.

This was followed by another peal of bells as the ensemble members left the stage in respectful silence.

After a suitable pause, the audience broke into prolonged and much deserved applause.

Nature and Birds was fitting tribute and farewell to a much-loved musician and friend to many. – Keith Millar

The next Baroque 2000 concert will take place at the Church of the Mariannhill Monastery on November 4, 2018, at 15h00. For more information contact Michel Schneuwly, Baroque 2000 Director, on 031 312 5539 or 082 303 5241 or email