“Never before has the Memorial Chapel looked so beautiful, bathed in lambent and metamorphosing light, with the lingering aroma of incense – truly an evocative pleasure to all the senses.”
This was one guest’s impression as they entered the Memorial Chapel, a space so dear to the Bishops community, for Eternal Echoes on Saturday 12 August conceived by ODs John Woodland (2005K) and Richard Cock (1966O).
Taking the 150th anniversary of the birth of Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873–1943) as its starting point, the programme began with the richly sonorous textures of Rachmaninoff’s famous Vespers which were contrasted with the stark minimalism of Sir John Tavener (1944–2013). Tavener’s music was in turn complemented by the lyricism of Tchaikovsky, an important mentor to the young Rachmaninoff, and William Byrd, who played a profound role in the development of polyphony during the Renaissance.
These sublime choral masterpieces, spanning four centuries, painted sonic landscapes of vivid intensity in the candlelit grandeur of the Memorial Chapel. The remaining composers were Georgy Sviridov, Nicolay Kedrov, Eric Whitacre and Craig Courtney, whose moving Ukrainian Alleluia was included as a tribute to that resilient nation, as noted by Richard and John in their pre-concert conversation.
Eternal Echoes: Rachmaninoff, Tchaikovsky, Tavener, Byrd and Beyond was organised by VOX Cape Town, founded by John in 2015, and the Johannesburg-based Chanticleer Singers, founded by Richard in 1980. The choral forces were augmented by soloists Violina Anguelov-Hobbs (mezzo-soprano) and Liam Burden, whose saxophone improvisations resonated freely in the marvellous acoustic of the Memorial Chapel.
Eternal Echoes was the fourth instalment of VOX’s series of ‘New Soundscapes’ – immersive concerts designed to expose Cape Town’s audiences to fresh choral sounds. Other special touches included a complimentary welcome drink (Hope Distillery Small-Batch Vodka), subtle projections on the vast east wall of the Memorial Chapel, the old-world aroma of incense, and the incorporation of bells into the evening’s soundworld. As another guest wrote the following day:.
“Thank you! We were immeasurably touched by the sublime mystical experience last night. This is this sort of thing that gives us hope for both the present and future in this amazing and culturally-endowed city.”
To acknowledge their appreciation to Bishops and the OD Union for hosting this evening of music in the Memorial Chapel, a generous donation has been made by the two choirs to the OD Bursary Fund. Besides the two conductors, two other ODs also participated in the music-making: James Lister (2000G) and Mark Marais (1976G), who sing with VOX and Chanticleer, respectively. .
To see all the photos of this beautiful event, please CLICK HERE.
To read more about Eternal Echoes CLICK HERE.
The ODU would like to thank everyone for their generous donations that will go to the OD Bursary Fund.