Stories from the Choir

Stories from the Choir

Rossini Reflections – June 2014 by Harry Wiggett

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Some personal reflections on the performance of Rossini”s MESSE SOLENNELLE in St. John”s Church, Wynberg on Sunday 15th June 2014


Basking in post-concert euphoria, it seems appropriate to pen some personal response to the performance of this work that was so enthusiastically embraced and received by an almost full house in St. John”s Church on the past Sunday evening.

The solo parts were wonderfully rendered by four youthful singers – Nomsa Mpofu (soprano), Bongiwe Nakani (mezzo-soprano). Willem Bester (tenor), and Martin Mkhize (bass) –  brilliantly accompanied by organist Erik Dippenaar and concert pianist Albert Combrink. Along with these dedicated musicians, our conductor Alexander Fokkkens led the Symphony Choir of Cape Town with throrough sensitivity through the hour and twenty minutes of Rossini”s score in a performance infused with his own dynamic spirituality. Read More »Rossini Reflections – June 2014 by Harry Wiggett

Haydn Nelson Mass – October 2014 by Harry Wiggett

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A personal reflection on the performance

of Joseph Haydn”s NELSON MASS

in St George”s Cathedral at 8.00p.m.

on 17th October 2014

Soloists: Goitsemang Lehobye, Teresa de Wit;

Khanyiso Gwenxane; Siyabulela Ntale

The Symphony Choir of Cape Town

Conductor: Alexander Fokkens


The penny only dropped on the very morning of the concert when, in a moment of leisure, I Googled the Haydn Nelson Mass simply so that, even at that late stage of preparation, I could immerse myself as far as possible in the spirit and occasion of its composition.

In doing so I suddenly became aware of the fact that the original title given by Haydn to this work was not the “NELSON” Mass but the “MISSA IN ANGUSTIIS” – Mass for troubled times.

It would be difficult to describe just how this surprise insight affected me throughout the evening”s performance. The moment conductor Alexander stepped onto the podium I sensed deepdown within me that he would bring this Mass to life in a way that would reveal just how awesomely relevant both titles were to our present times in South Africa.

With the agitation of the opening bars I became mindful of the privilege I had of ministering to political prisoners both on Robben Island in the 1960″s and later in Pollsmoor Prison in the 1980″s during the turbulent days of the apartheid regime.

With the burst of the powerful opening Kyrie eleison I instantly felt the music transporting me casino pa natet to the presence of Nelson Mandela in prison, and how, over the years of his time in prison, the very structure and substance of the Christian Liturgical Mass would fashion his growth towards the statesman the whole nation – and, indeed, the world – came to love and revere.Read More »Haydn Nelson Mass – October 2014 by Harry Wiggett

Beethoven 9th Symphony – May 2013 by Harry Wiggett

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On Sunday, 19th May – the Feast of Pentecost – the day of our final rehearsal before the performance of the Beethoven Symphony No.9 (the Choral) – I heard these words read in St. Margaret”s Church, Fish Hoek where Jean (my wife) and I worship:

“…and your old men shall dream dreams…”(Acts 2.17)

But, its not only old men who dream dreams, it is also young men who dream them! And one of my dreams of some sixty years ago (which has been a recurring dream through the course of these past sixty years) was to sing in a performance of the Beethoven 9th Symphony.Read More »Beethoven 9th Symphony – May 2013 by Harry Wiggett

Dvorak Mass in D Major – June 2013 by Harry Wiggett

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From Hip Hop to Hosanna

Within the past eight days Jean (my wife) and I have had the privilege of experiencing two events which have had a refreshingly profound effect on us, and for me have enhanced my understanding of the word “church”!

The first was on Sunday 16 June when we spent ten hours – from 8.00a.m. to 6.00p.m.- in the Good Hope Centre, Cape Town, attending a national Hip-Hop Competition in which our two Johannesburg granddaughters were participating.Read More »Dvorak Mass in D Major – June 2013 by Harry Wiggett

Brahms Requiem – October 2013 by Harry Wiggett

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Performed in the Cape Town City Hall on Tuesday 15th October 2013 under the direction of Conductor Alexander Fokkens


My first experience of the Brahms Requiem in the same venue some years ago was a disappointment. We had been invited to attend the performance and we were, indeed, looking forward to it.

However, the playing and singing on that occasion might have been word and note perfect, but the performance was both leaden and dismal. As a result of which my wife, Jean, and I agreed to give future airings of this work a miss. Read More »Brahms Requiem – October 2013 by Harry Wiggett