Both are beautiful and fitting venues for this serious Lenten concert which presents John Stainer’s magnificent and moving work, The Crucifixion.
The Mardens have during the past three years been very active, offering productions that have broken from the norm, with the Purcell opera Dido and Aeneas both at the Bulawayo Music Festival and Hifa in 2008, followed by several concerts of sacred music that have incorporated the spoken word and movement, delivered by members of the choir.
This choir has presented Handel’s Messiah annually for several decades, a Christmas treat to which the music loving community look forward with much delight.
This year’s Eastertide concert which falls within Lent and is designed as a contemplative presentation in which the audience can immerse themselves in beautiful music and meditate upon the sacrifice of Christ, includes the spoken word. A third dimension is the display of visual art inside the venues.
Two other works are presented: Gabriel Faure’s Messe Basse, and Handel’s I know That My Redeemer Liveth beautifully sung by young talent Mandipa Ndlovu. The concert, in the three dimensions of visual art, spoken word and choral music, promises to be a glorious, thought-provoking experience.
The Mardens have some exciting plans for later this year, with an outdoor presentation of opera highlights, Glyndeborne in Harare, in late September featuring a guest soloist from the UK, The Messiah in November, while next year, a major operatic production is on the cards.
This is a genre with which many Zimbabweans remain unfamiliar, though the CABS Opera Gala at Hifa and the Mardens’ own Dido and Aeneas has exposed many more to it in recent years and its popularity is rising here — as it is overseas, where huge efforts are being made to introduce this magnificently dramatic classical genre to young people, by making it more accessible and relevant.
Meantime, next week rehearsals begin for a massed choir who will participate in the CABS Opera Gala at Hifa. This innovation is sure to meet with audience approval, adding another dimension to what is already an outstandingly popular annual event at Hifa.
The call for choristers to volunteer is going out as I write, and I shall be among them! Those of us who came forward to sing in Carmina Burana at last year’s Hifa in a choir 100 strong, enjoyed the experience enormously and learnt much from it.