Jou Week In Groote Kerk, 15 Maart 2020

Jou Week In Groote Kerk, 15 Maart 2020

Nuusbrief, Sondag 15 Maart 2020...

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Organist travels to venues housing fine instruments

– Geskryf deur Sheila Chisholm, wat in die Cape Times van 16 Oktober 2014 verskyn het.


MENTION organ music and the mind immediately jumps to German Baroque composer Johann Sebastian Bach – a musical giant whose organ works led the field for generations. Associated with Christian music or as an instrument to accompany choral works in concert halls, the organs origins date back many centuries.

To be heard in context, great organ music requires great organs and while Cape Town has fine organs such as the one in the City Hall with 3165 pipes (sadly in need of repair), the Baxter concert hall’s Von Beckerath organ and Cape Town’s Groote Kerk’s 1954 Petz and Zoon we sadly lag behind Europe’s towering cathedral and concert hall organs. So an organist, unlike a violinist or a trumpeter who carry their instruments around, has to travel to where an organ is.

Yet, an organist requires an international reputation to be offered an opportunity to play on the world’s most magnificent instruments.

Roucher du Toit is one of the honoured few. He recently returned from playing the Johannes Klais built organ at The Hohen Dam Koln Summer Organ Festival, held in Cologne’s immense and historic cathedral.

“It is exactly 30 years ago that I first played in Cologne’s cathedral (the cathedral has three superb organs) and felt really honoured  to be invited back” said an excited du Toit. Not only did I share a programme with Bach, Pierne and Mendelssohn works, I was commissioned to compose an opus for the event which had to include my daughter Elizabeth Catharina


Set in the style of a Mahler symphony du Toit’s six movement work is one of the few full works with solo voice and organ. Named Impressions of Cape Town Op 48 the first movement takes the form of a solo sea  bird ‘s call. A call later to be answered by more birds. The second movement is a Minuet taking place in Cape Town’s castle. The third movement – using intricate 3/4 rhythms – compares black and white cultures.  Elizabeth Catharina (soprano) is introduced in the fourth movement which passes through the seasons based on Haar Uitvaart, a poem by PJ Philander. The fifth – representing the mountain is totally modern, impressionistic, melodious in glorious classical abstract modes, the sixth is a toccata.

Bubbling with enthusiasm Elizabeth Catharina said “the occasion was absolutely amazing. Before the concert we noted how many people were present for what we thought was the evening church service. We were wrong. The 3 000 people were there for our concert.

Because I had to sing without amplification I feared my voice wouldn’t reach the rafters. But it did and our reception was absolutely amazing. An experience neither dad nor myself will ever forget.”

What now for the dad and daughter duo? Elizabeth Catharina is aiming for her MMus at Stellenbosch choosing “Making a Game of Chess Sound “ for her thesis. And du Toit, will continue composing, conducting his educational programmes, teaching his multi-national organ students, playing at European International Organ Festivals, travelling shortly to St Peter’s Basilica Dillegen, Germany and anywhere else where there is an organ to play.




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