- Pro Cantu’s Rach Vespers in Afrikaans

- Pro Cantu’s Rach Vespers in Afrikaans

The first performance of Rachmaninoff’s Vespers - in Afrikaans - took place at the Moederkerk in Stellenbosch last week. The piece was performed by the Pro Cantu Choir conducted by their Director, Leon Starker.

Starker, who also directs and conducts the Cape Chamber Choir Director, came up with the idea to translate and perform Rachmaninoff’s Night Vigil, to make the music more accessible to choirs in South Africa.

Commissioned by the “Vriende van Afrikaans” society, poliglot and musicologist, Ms Hélène Dippenaar, from Durbanville, translated the piece. Her years of directing choirs and teaching music made her the perfect candidate for the task.

The music was performed in its totality for the first time by the two choirs in the ‘Moederkerk’ in Stellenbosch on 14 August. A prelude of an improvisation of the themes from the Vespers was also performed on the organ by renowned organist Zorada Temmingh. A reading of suitable texts from the music enhanced the occasion.

Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Opus 37 or All Night Vigil is an a capella choral composition written and premiered in 1915. It consists of settings of texts taken from the Russian Orthodox All-night vigil ceremony and has been praised as his finest achievement. It was one of Rachmaninoff’s two favourite compositions along with ‘The Bells’ and the composer requested that one of its movements(the fifth) be sung at his funeral.

The title of the work is often translated as simply Vespers, which is both literally and conceptually incorrect as applied to the entire work: only the first six of its fifteen movements set texts from the Russian orthodox canonical hour of Vespers.

Performances will also take place at Bishop’s Chapel at the Diocesan College in Rondebosch on 21 August at 19:00pm; and the Centre for the Book on 22 August at 16:30pm; and at the Voortrekker Monument on 26 September at 16:00pm.

Tickets are R80 and available @ Computicket.

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