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Thursday, December 23, 2021


(Left: Hlengiwe Mkhwanazi)

The music was like a basket packed full of festive treats. As each was unwrapped, there was another musical delight to waiting follow. (Review by Keith Millar)

Durban’s Baroque 2000 ensemble brought down the curtain on its 2021 Concert Series at the Church of the Monastery at Mariannhill, last Sunday, with a spectacular Christmas Celebration concert.

The music was like a basket packed full of festive treats. As each was unwrapped, there was another musical delight to waiting follow.

The soloist for the concert was the stunning soprano Hlengiwe Mkhwanazi. A native of KwaZulu-Natal she is now living in Cape Town. She obtained her post graduate diploma in music performance from the University of Cape Town and is an alumni of the prestigious Ryan Opera Centre at the Lyric Opera of Chicago.

Mkhwanazi is a mufti award-winning artist and has performed extensively in Chicago and in Southern Africa. She is blessed with a strong, pure, and effortless voice.

She performed a number of beautiful arias with elegance and grace. These included I Know My Redeemer LIveth and Rejoice Greatly from George Frederic Handel’s Messiah. Let the Bright Seraphim from Handel’s Opera Samson, which had Michel Schneuwly join the ensemble to play the striking trumpet part. Mkhwanazi also performed Domine Deus from Antonio Vivaldi’s Gloria and Si Dolce é’l tormento by Claudio Monteverdi.

Two very special treats served up by the Ensemble were the sublime Canon by Johann Pachelbel and Air from 3rd Suite in D Major by JS Bach (Air On a G String).

These two items are arguably amongst the best known and loved pieces of baroque music today and are used extensively for weddings and other events.

If you are emotionally moved by music then there is little doubt that these two pieces will do the trick and that tears will be shed at their sublime beauty.

The concert was rounded out by the Ensemble performing the Overture from Handel’s Messiah, Pastorale from the Christmas Concerto by Francesco Manfredini, and Concerto grosso for the Night of Christmas by Arcangelo Corelli.

Another visitor from Cape Town joining the Baroque 2000 Ensemble for this concert was Harpsichord maestro Eric Dippenaar. It was possibly his influence that led to the orchestra putting in what was, in my humble opinion, its performance of the 2021 Concert Series at this concert. As an encore, the ensemble played an arrangement of We Wish You a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

An appropriate ending to a year of excellent music.

It is planned for the next Concert Series to begin in March 2022. For more information and any queries, contact Michel Schneuwly at 082 303 5241 or on

Baroque 2000 is sponsored by Die Rupert Musiekstigting.