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Welcome to a unique & very special musical celebration of Christmas!

We can think of at least 4 reasons why today's performance could be described as unique: 

1. This work, consisting of six parts will be performed for only the third time in the history of this country in its entirety with all required orchestra parts played. (The previous occasion was in 2013 also by the Pretoria Bach Choir).

2. The three glorious trumpet parts will be performed for the very first time ever in South Africa on Baroque trumpets that are very similar to the original natural trumpets used in Bach's time. Today you are not hearing modern trumpets! 

3. In addition, the first “horn" part in Part 4 of the Oratorio will be performed on a "Corno da Caccia", a "hunting horn"& not a modern horn - also more similar to Bach's intended sound. (Due to only one instrument being available, the second part is played on a modern Flugelhorn.) 

4. The alto soloist performing will, as in the time of Bach, not be a female alto, but a counter tenor.


Bach composed the work in 1734 for the liturgy of the six prescribed Christmas & New Year services. He gave the trumpets a very special if not unconventional role to play in this work. In those days trumpets were still mainly used to musically indicate the status & position of senior nobility such as kings and princes. In Europe, this was the time in which the pomp and splendour of the nobility were in stark contrast to the poverty of ordinary people, about half a century before the French revolution.


Bach brilliantly uses trumpets in the work to make the Kingship of the humble baby Jesus culturally and musically audible to the listener of the time. He places the royal trumpet sound in stark contrast to the humbleness of the baby of poor parents by using trumpets highly unconventionally, for example in a lullaby. The use of Baroque trumpets in this performance is therefore most appropriate. The natural trumpet that hails from that time is understandably not technically very advanced: it has no valves for example! Importantly however, it has a long conical bore unlike modern trumpets which have obtained a cylindrical bore over time. Thus a Baroque trumpet has a much rounder, less "brassy" and a more delicate sound than what we are used to today. It brilliantly fulfils Bach's musical demands in this work without detracting from the sound effect that Bach originally had in mind.

BUT! It is a massive challenge for the modern trumpet player to master the "Baroque" trumpet which is very similar to the natural trumpets of that time! It is much more difficult to play than the modern instrument, inter alia because it has no valves. Consequently it is mostly played in the very high register where it can play a melodic scale which makes it possible to play melodies & not only arpeggios like for example a modern bugle. With the Baroque trumpet, the different melodic notes are formed by the player's lips without any modern mechanical supports. In Bach's time only the very best players could master the full range & flexibility that his compositions require. How much more of a challenge for the modern player who, by the nature of things, cannot specialise exclusively in Baroque trumpet in South Africa, because opportunities to earn an income such as the present are few and far between.

In the past orchestras performing with the Pretoria Bach Choir used piccolo trumpets to reach the very high range thus required in Baroque compositions. Although the modern piccolo trumpet can reach the original high pitch, the tone is not what Bach had in mind. In particular in the Christmas Oratorio where the trumpets have to express the Kingship of the baby Jesus in sound, the modern instrument is not sufficiently subtle.

It is a privilege to have an orchestra of this quality for this performance!
We thank the Rupert Music Foundation for its generous financial contribution to make this orchestra possible.

The Pretoria Bach Choir invites you to enjoy this special musical Christmas narrative from beginning to end with us today!


Gerben Grooten

Soloists  Orchestra
Tenor Nicholas Nicolaides
Concert Master Denise Sutton
Bass Hendre van Zyl
Violin I

Olga Korvink

Counter Tenor Jonathan Watkins   Lize Schaap
 Soprano Alna Smit Violin II Mary Tennant

Hendi Krog

      Mariette Malherbe
     Viola Andrea Erasmus
      Martie Botha
    Oboe I & Oboe d'Amore I
 Peter Jaspan
    Oboe II & Oboe for Oboe d'Amore II (not Part II)
& Cor Anglais for Oboe da Caccia I in Part II
 Olivier Barrier
    Oboe for Oboe d'Amore II in Part II only

Clorinda Warrens

    Cor Anglais for Oboe da Caccia II in Part II on 28 Nov

Andrew Moorosiq

    Cor Anglais for Oboe d'Caccia II in Part II on 5 Dec  Lesley Stansell

John Reid-Coulter

     Cello Katia Sokolova
      Berthine van Schoor
    Double Bass

Leanse Pottas


Gerhard Benade

    Baroque Trumpet I
& Como da Caccia I in Part 4
Philip Cox
    Baroque Trumpet II Braam van Tonder
    Baroque Trumpet Ill & Flugelhom for Como da Caccia II in Part 4 Walter Johannes
    Flute I Andre Oosthuizen
    Flute II Magdel Erasmus
Sopranos Altos Tenors Basses
Marijke Anderson Marike Brits Wim Bronkhorst Cassie Carstens
Lynette Boerrigter Liesl De Klerk Ian Butler Hanno den Boer
Eleanor Burton Henna Delen Gerhard Coetzer NanteDiedericks
Tineke Coetzee
Trudie Delport Ruan Fraser-Vorstman
Chris Hershensohn
Annette Dreyer
Gerda du Toit Werner Fraser-Vorstman
Pieter Koelewyn
Thia du Plooy
Marcha Geyer Corné Theron
Barry Meijer
Minda Ferreira
Marianne Haag Dirk Theron Ferdie Preller
Rosemary Gray
Fernanda Jones

Heinrich Schutte
Renelle Grabler
Carola Meyer

Johan van de Wetering
Petro Heyns
Karien Mostert-Wentzel

Roelien Holland-Muter*
Adry Stolk

Valerie Nolte Susan van den Heever
Caren Potgieter Petro van Niekerk
Malene Schulze
Alet van Rooyen
Barbara Venter

 *Echo Soloist

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