6th February 2020

WOW – and WOW again! What and exciting experience! The performance of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony was simply exhilarating. An enormous orchestra and ditto choir made for a truly stupendous sound in the forte sections of the piece – but the large ensemble also managed the pp sections to perfection. The boss was happy! We were joined by a number of accomplished singers from the Gauteng Choristers to boost the choir numbers. The men’s section, especially, benefitted from their rich sound. The four soloists were absolutely wonderful – a beautifully matched sound. We in the SCJ are, of course, especially fond of Siyabonga Maqungo; such a wonderful voice and such a wonderful person!

This large and exceptionally taxing performance was kept flawlessly in check by our inimitable Maestro Richard Cock. Even the smallest mistake from orchestra or singers can send the whole thing crashing down – but thanks to Richard’s monumental effort everything went well. Believe me – it’s a huge task – BIG THANKS TO RICHARD.

The audience broke into frenzied applause even before the last note had been played, everyone were on their feet for a standing O; and many had felt so overwhelmed they were in tears. Many of the emails we’ve received from members of the audience bear witness to the same – a sense of being deeply moved mixed with an overpowering feeling of FREUDE!

The next concert put on by The Symphony Choir of Johannesburg – and here we’re joined by Cantare Jubiloso – is:


Gioachino Rossini : Stabat Mater
at the Linder Auditorium – Good Friday 10th April @ 18:00
Soloists:  Hlengiwe Mkwanazi (soprano), Minette du Toit Pearce (contralto),
 Siyabonga Maqungo (tenor), Aubrey Lodewyk (baritone)
With the Johannesburg Festival Orchestra


Richard Cock on the podium.

 Gioachino Rossini (1792 – 1868) was born in Pesaro, Italy. In view of his background of composing mainly comic operas the few religious compositions of Rossini (Petit Messe Solenelle, Stabat Mater) are sometimes criticized as less serious. Notwithstanding the strong operatic tendencies, especially in the Stabat Mater, this was absolutely not Rossini’s intention. On the contrary, as we can learn from his note to the manuscript of the Petite Messe, he composed these works from a real religious feeling: “Here it is then, this poor little Mass. Have I written truly sacred music, or just damn bad music? I was born for opera buffa, as you well know. Not much skill, but quite a bit of feeling – that’s how I’d sum it up. Blessed be thy name, and grant me a place in Paradise“.

At first Rossini composed only sections 1 and 5 through 9 from the intended ten sections of his Stabat Mater. Due to an attack of lumbago, either real or strategic (Rossini was not very motivated, in the beginning), the other sections were composed by Giovanni Tadolini from Bologna. In this form it was played in Madrid in 1832. However, before it could be published Rossini succeeded in getting back the manuscript and re-composed the Tadolini-sections. In 1842 it had its premiere in its definite form.

The poet Heine wrote after hearing the Stabat Mater that the theatre seemed “a vestibule of heaven”. The audiences were deeply moved by the sombre beauty of the long opening and taken by the beautiful melodies of the following movements. As evidence of Rossini’s serious purpose the work ends with a great double fugue.

Booking is through Computicket – just use this link

Yours sincerely, on behalf of the Symphony Choir of Johannesburg,

Kate Pape

Missed our previous newsletters? Click here to read 12 December 2019 and  13 October 2019