On 2 September 2023, over 110 choristers will raise their voices at Linder Auditorium in celebration of Renette Bouwer’s 25-year tenure as conductor of the University of Johannesburg’s choir (UJ Choir). The multi-generational choir and its alumni members hope to highlight her legacy as conductor, mentor, teacher, and friend to UJ Choir with The New Covenant, a fitting send-off that speaks to her hope for the future and her unwavering belief in her singers.
The New Covenant departs from Antjie Krog’s poetry which inscribes our relationship with nature, the planet and the Universe. Performed as a multi-movement Mass, the work is both a prayer and a call to action that demands from man their responsibility as earth’s custodians, to care for everything that is sustainably maintained by the cosmos.
“The strong message of this work deeply reverberates with me. With age I have become increasingly aware of our responsibility towards nature and our planet. So, for me it is the perfect work for UJ Choir and alumni to crown my career at UJ.”Renette Bouwer
Composed by Antoni Schonken, The New Covenant is written for choir, instrumental ensemble, two pianos and a narrator. The work was translated from Krog’s original Afrikaans into English by the poet herself, arranged by Pieter Bezuidenhout especially for this performance, and will be narrated by artist, activist and world-renowned poet, Lebogang Mashile. Joining them on are Steffie le Roux (solo), Mareli Stolp and Eugene Joubert (piano), Magda de Vries and Wian Joubert (percussion).
Bouwer comments, “The sound palette of this work is very different from UJ Choir’s normal repertoire. Antoni Schonken did Antjie Krog’s text justice through imaginative use of both conventional and unconventional compositional techniques. The music is constantly in service of the text. I am amazed at how the young students and alumni adapted to new and unusual textures. The juxtaposition of orthodox sacred music forms with secular texts is surely a thought-provoker.”
“As I contemplate my impending departure from the choir, I am content in the knowledge that I have instilled more than just artistic values in my singers; without living in harmony with each other and our planet, nothing of value can be created.”Renette Bouwer
The New Covenant will be presented at the Linder Auditorium for two performances only, on 2 September at 15:00 and 19:30.
The New Covenant is presented by UJ Arts & Culture in collaboration with Vektor Productions. Tickets are limited and are available online from R150 – R260 here. For more information, please contact Frank Modise via email on firstname.lastname@example.org.