The venerated Messiah by George Frideric Handel will be performed twice in April by the Free State Symphony Orchestra in the spirit of Easter. The first performance will take place in Welkom at the Ernest Oppenheimer Theatre Friday, 20 April and repeated in Bloemfontein on Saturday, 21 April at the Universitas NG Kerk “Geloofsentrum”. Both concerts will be conducted by the FSSO’s resident conductor, Mr Alexander Fokkens and includes the famous “Hallelujah” chorus.
The Messiah oratorio was composed in 1741 by Handel with a scriptural text compiled by Charles Jennens from the King James Bible, and from the version of the Psalms included with the Book of Common Prayer. Messiah was his sixth work in this genre. Although its structure resembles that of opera, it is not in dramatic form; there are no impersonations of characters and no direct speech.
Soprano Gretel Coetzee grew up in a family where music was a normal part of life. She learned piano and violin as a child, and eventually studied B.Mus. at the University of the Free State. During this time she became a member of the PACOFS opera chorus, and also took part in the PACOFS youth concerto festival. She regularly collaborates with the Namibian Chamber Ensemble and is also an avid Lieder recitalist. In 2013 she presented a Lieder Recital in Krakow, Poland (Dworek Bialopradnicki). In the beginning of 2010 she made a recording of lullabies in German, Afrikaans, English and isiZulu, titled Thula Baba. Gretel is also a voice teacher and educator, who is passionate about encouraging good singing among young people.
Teresa de Wit has enjoyed an illustrious singing career, winning the SAMRO/Deon van der Walt Scholarship in 1999 and attending master classes at the Mozarteum in Salzburg, Austria the following year. She was a member of the Cape Town Opera Studio and a soloist with the Cape Philharmonic Orchestra before joining the Black Tie Ensemble in 2006.
She has sung at various BTE events, including a performance at Tuynhuys during the Presidential Banquet in honour of Mr and Mrs Kofi Annan. Her stage roles include Alisa in Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor, Rosina in Rossini’s The Barber of Seville, Dorabella in Mozart’s Cosi fan tutte, and Kate Pinkerton and Suzuki in Puccini’s Madama Butterfly. Her recent performance with the FSSO was the role of Santuzza in Cavalleria Rusticana.
Albertus Engelbrecht was a finalist in the SAMRO/Deon van der Walt master classes and also under Gerhard Korsten in Debuut met Mimi in Pretoria. He then established a career in concert singing and continued this in Germany and the rest of Europe (Berlin, Frankfurt, Nürnberg, Mainz, Vienna, Naples), singing the major tenor solos in oratorios from Bach, Handel, Haydn and also Liederabende and mixed recitals.
Engelbrecht also sings opera and operetta and was appointed in opera houses of Passau and Nürnberg (Germany) for a total of seventeen years where he sang a diversity of leading roles such as Orfeo in Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo, Ramiro in Rossini’s La Cenerentola, The Duke in Verdi’s Rigoletto, Belmonte in Mozart’s Die Entführung aus dem Serail, Danilo in Lehar’s The Merry Widow and Graf Zedlau in J. Strauss’ Wiener Blut. Since 2016 Mr Engelbrecht is appointed as lecturer in singing at the Odeion School of Music, UFS.
Paul Madibeng was born in Bloemfontein. He started to sing in the church choir at the age of ten years old, and became a national champion of Eisteddford school competition as best bass soloist and also of the Tirisano school competitions. Paul undertook voice training under Mr William Theunissen at Musicon in 2002, and became a member of Free State Opera thereafter. He was also a member of the Black Tie Ensemble at the State Theatre, and went to the UK for master class in English National Opera. He was a member of the Pro Musica in Roodepoort, Johannesburg doing major roles in the production of Magic Flute as Sarastro and Don Giovanni as Il Commendatore. In 2010 he became member of Cape Town Opera Vocal Ensemble, and went to Paris to do Showboat as Joe. He also sang in African Angels in Amsterdam, Germany, London, Melbourne, Belgium and Berlin. Paul obtained his certificate in Music Theory at Unisa, and was also awarded a gold medal by the Unisa Music Foundation in Pretoria.
Alumni Voices mainly consists of former choir and staff members of the University of the Free State, and also includes alumni from other universities. The choir was originally Voices Incorporated, which then merged with the Student Chamber Choir in 2013, with Leona Geldenhuys as the Director. Alumni Voices has endeavoured to participate in various projects every year since then.
The Cathedral Singers of St Andrew & St Michael, formerly incorporating the Odeion Choir, was founded by the Reverend Simon Aiken & current Music Director, Lance Phillip in 2009. The choir is now affiliated to Bloemfontein Anglican Cathedral, and consists mainly of students and staff of the University of the Free State. The Cathedral Singers regularly collaborates with Cantando@Bloem, the Free State Symphony Orchestra and the Odeion Camerata. Past guest conductors include Louis van der Watt, Richard Cock, Branko Starck, Gordon Appleton, Geoffey Webber, Lindsey Grey & Alexander Fokkens. At present, the Assistant Director is Werner Stander, and the organists are Lourie Coetzee and Maretha Krige. The current membership includes singers from Namibia, Germany, Lesotho, Australia, the USA as well as South Africa.
This one of a kind concert is not to be missed and tickets are available as follows:
• R120 for 20 April in Welkom available at the Ernest Oppenheimer 057 357 1214.
• R100 (adults) and R50 (students) for 21 April in Bloemfontein from Computicket.
For more information on the concert visit www.fsso.org.za or call Ella Kotze on 051 401 2342