Memorial Chapel, Bishops
R160 | R120 (seniors and students)


“Yearning, despair, life, passion, beauty, tension… The hidden clockwork of the universe.” This is how one singer describes the music in VOX Cape Town’s forthcoming performance: “Trust the Silences (Once More)”.


On 21 April, VOXinvites its audience to experience all of these profoundly human states as expressed in choral music by Eric Whitacre (b. 1970, United States) and Ēriks Ešenvalds (b. 1977, Latvia).To further blur the boundaries between classical and contemporary music there will also be arrangements of songs by Radiohead and The Cinematic Orchestra.


VOX Cape Town was formed in mid-2015 to continue the choral legacy of the St George’s Singers, a chamber choir led for over fifty years by Dr Barry Smith. The new singing group, under the direction of John Woodland, aims to enrich the musical life of Cape Town in a way that is distinct from other choirs and singing groups in the city.


“VOX provides a fresh approach to singing and performing. It involves singing beyond the notes on the page,” says David Patrick, a music teacher and bass singerin the group. Fellow bass and medical doctor, Johan van der Walt,agrees:“VOX combines the technical prowess of a traditional chamber choir with modern compositions and nuanced ways of experiencing choral music.”


In this way, VOX strives to reinvent and reinvigorate local choral music.The ensemble comprises 25 singers who share a passion for singing yet hail from diverse backgrounds.“VOX has a unique make-up and blend of voices. Performances are immersive experiences that appeal to all senses,” says Shaun February, a match secretary at Western Province Rugby.


“I feel challenged every week to produce a more beautiful sound and the music stays in my head during the week. It is lovely to live with beauty,” said Suzanne Buchanan, a music teacher and soprano in the group.


“Trust the Silences (Once More)” on Friday 21 April is part of a series of “New Soundscapes” in which VOX intends to expose audiences to fresh choral sounds. A previous installment in this series entitled “A Tale of Two Tave(r)ners”juxtaposed Renaissance polyphony (John Tavener, 1490-1545) with the “holy”minimalism of his contemporary namesake, Sir John Tavener (1944-2013).Evocative lighting and imaginative musical programming created a rich sensory experience for listeners.


“The music energises me like sparkling water,”enthuses soprano Christina Goodall of the programme for “Trust the Silences (Once More)”. Helene Cooke, who works as a computer analyst for an insurance company, says that “every piece creates its own special mood”.


And this is what VOX intends to do in its forthcoming performance. The title is taken from a quotation on one of the musical scores of the composer Eric Whitacre: “Above all, trust the silences.” Director John Woodland explains that, “The composer reminds the singers that silence, as the canvas on which we“paint”our sounds, is equally as important as the music itself. We shouldn’t be alarmed orfrightened by silencesthat penetrate the music. Instead, we should “trust” the silences– the music and the singers both need opportunitiesto breathe, especially in the spacious acoustic of the Bishops Memorial Chapel.”


The original performance, “Trust the Silences”, took place last year. Next month’s seque lwill still be headed by the unleashed energy of “Cloudburst”, a musical depiction of a thunderstorm replete with percussion instruments and clicking, tapping and clapping by the singers to portray the arrival of the rain.This year’s programme will feature brand new pieces by Eric Whitacre, Ērik sEšenvalds as well as items by contemporary bands Radiohead and The Cinematic Orchestra. These works, ranging from the sublime to the intimate, will offset the minimalist masterpiece at the centre of the performance, “When David Heard”. This piece is based on a single, devastating sentence from the Bible describing the moment David discovers that his son, Absalom, has died in battle.


“Because it is a relatively small group, every person is vital – you feel as though you make a real contribution. I heard VOX singing the Nine Lessons and Carols last year and was attracted to their precision in singing and the care they put into the whole service including the reading of the lessons. This led me to audition for them,” says Jean Westwood, a new alto in the group.


VOX also looks to the future with the hit single “Fly to Paradise” from Eric Whitacre’s techno-opera “Paradise Lost”. This piece will feature the unique vocal talents of Richard Brokensha, vocalist for South African alternative rock group Isochronous (ISO). Other guest artists include Bronwyn van Wieringen (piano), Dylan Tabisher and Cherilee Adams (percussion) and Tara Notcutt (lighting and technical direction). Proceeds from the performance will be donated to the Bishops Chapel Improvement Fund.


“The music is intense, interesting and contemporary – not the usual Cape Town choral experience,” says Peter Borchers, an IT software entrepreneur and tenor in the group.


Fellow singer and judge, Owen Rogers, summed up the performance in this way: “The music is contemplative, ethereal, sometimes magical – you will be transported to another world, if only for an hour.”


Don’t miss this final opportunity to experience VOX’s most ambitious, immersive choral project yet. Email us at hello@voxcapetown.com to reserve your spot. Booking is essential. Tickets are R160 or R120 for seniors and students, payable at the door.




Soprano: Suzanne Buchanan, Elise de Kock, Christina Goodall, Chloe Joustra,
Maryanne McLachlan, Stephanie Pulker, Jenni van Doesburgh, Anthea van Wieringen
Alto: Elinor Auerbach, Helene Cooke, Karen Hahne, Lesley Jennings,
Jennifer Matlock, Jean Westwood
Tenor: Peter Borchers, Tobias Hahne, Roger Hunter, Michael Marchant, Owen Rogers
Bass: Chris Arnold, Casey Driver, Shaun February, Brent Johnson, Aaron Juritz,
David Patrick, Kyle Paulssen, Johan van der Walt

John Woodland
Events, Logistics, Finances: Kyle Paulssen
Art, Development, Analytics: James Rink
Policy, Strategy, Sustainability: Michael Marchant