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Thursday, December 5, 2019


(Taking a break during interval are Jacques Heyns (harpsichord), Annel Niebuhr (cello continuo), Sondra-Marié Sitz (alto), Botes Gresse (conductor), Andrew Butler (bass), Sibonelo Mbanjwa (tenor), Emma Farquharson (soprano) and Malcolm McKinley (trumpet). Christopher Cockburn (not in the picture) played the organ.)

Audience members praised the 2019 “Messiah” presented by PAMS. (Review by Christi Naudé)

The 2019 Messiah performance presented by the Pietermaritzburg Amateur Music Society (PAMS) last week was “highly inspirational” and “uplifting” according to audience members, who packed the beautiful historic St Mary’s Catholic Church to the brim. They showed their appreciation by a standing ovation.

Music lovers were full of praise for "top class" conductor Botes Gresse, the choir, musicians and a great line up of soloists. “The show was fabulous. Amazing to realise we have such talent so close to home,” an appreciative concert goer remarked.

To a director of music at a major KZN girls' high school, who has attended the last five PAMS Messiah performances, "… it was by far the best in the last five years. The soloists were magnificent - particularly the clear diction of the alto, Sondra-Marie Sitz: every word was crystal clear. The choir was wonderful, and a h highlight for me was 'Since by man came death'. If only I could have heard it again."

Another was touched by Worthy is the Lamb. "The venue of St Mary’s was an inspired choice. What a setting! The second half was so beautiful a sound I started crying and only stopped at the end," she wrote in a letter to PAMS.

Tenor Sibonelo Mbanjwa was a clear favourite to Bridget Watson. "He sings from the heart, understands the text so well while his diction is perfect even from where we sat right at the back of the cathedral."

Bass stalwart Andrew Butler "deserves a medal for his performance," another concert goer said, while someone could not say enough about soprano Emma Farquharson's "angelic sweet voice." Malcolm McKinley’s suitably rousing trumpet and solid support from Christopher Cockburn at the newly installed organ was also recognised. - Christi Naudé