Handel’s Messiah at iconic Paarl church

Ané Pretorius (soprano) PICTURE: JESSE KRAMER

Two of South Africa’s premier performing arts companies are joining forces to present an Easter performance of Handel’s Messiah in the iconic Toringkerk in Paarl on Saturday April 16, at 4pm.

The exceptional, once-off performance will feature Ané Pretorius (soprano), Nonhlanhla Yende (alto), Siphesihle Mdena (tenor), and Lwazi Dlamini (bass) as soloists, together with the Cape Town Opera Chorus and Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Brandon Phillips.

Given that there are always performances of Messiah at this time of year, Cape Town Opera’s artistic director Magdalene Minnaar comments: “We thought long and hard about this and realised that the stars were aligning in a way that was impossible to ignore.

“Collaborating for an Easter concert and performing in the historic Toringkerk was too good an opportunity to miss. We were able to engage the wonderful organist Mario Nell to play the extraordinary Norman and Beards organ, manufactured in 1906 in Norwich, England.

“By combining the award-winning Cape Town Opera Chorus under chorus master Marvin Kernelle, Cape Town Opera in -house Soloists and Young Artists with the internationally renowned Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra, we knew we were on the path to success.

“As an opera company, we are incredibly proud of being able to cross genres and give our audiences an oratorio for Easter and we are also very excited to reach our audiences in the Paarl area. The minute the announcement went out, the ticket sales began!”

For Louis Heyneman, CEO and artistic director of the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra, “performing in Paarl to a cultured and music-loving audience enables us to spread our wings even wider, taking the orchestra and its partners into the wider community and underscoring our mandate as an orchestra of the people.

“We are delighted to co-present a work of such magnificence to an audience traditionally underserved by the major arts companies.”

The Messiah is arguably the best-loved oratorio and has been performed by the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra many times in the last 20 years with partners such as the Philharmonia Choir and the New Apostolic Church.

Traditionally Messiah is performed at Christmas and Easter, as the story covers the birth, the passion and the ascension of Jesus Christ.

While it took the German-born composer George Frideric Handel only a few weeks to write in 1741, Messiah has some of the most well-loved music in the classical repertoire, including Every valley shall be exalted, the Hallelujah Chorus, The trumpet shall sound, and the soul-stirring final chorus Worthy is the lamb.

Tickets cost R240 and are available through Quicket