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Performances of classical music do not always receive reviews in the press in modern times, so the excerpts of reviews below do not represent all the Symphony Choir’s performances.

CONCERT: E Elgar - The Dreamof Gerontius

"I came to the wonderful concert on Sunday and it was truly marvellous.  What an amazing work and to have the huge choir and orchestra filling the entire stage was incredible. Thanks and congratulations to you all for a very moving and memorable afternoon."

"Your Gerontius was wonderful indeed.  My guest and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Richard and the Orchestra and choir are really SO super."


CONCERT: Last Night of the Proms

Tinus & Michon / Martin Lane Entertainment "Dankie dankie dankie, ons het die aand baie geniet! Full of fun, well organised and rounded off. To get a full house is quite something nowadays, only possible by the Bieber, Lady Ga Ga, One Direction… Herewith my personal view: The soloists were well chosen. The choir fantastic, the orchestra: sublime and pure showbiz under your baton. The repertoire: fresh approach and balanced. We did miss a bit of female contribution i.e. soprano aria  - a high female note at the end always brings down the house. Peter McLea’s arrangement of The Lion King medley = eksie perfeksie. Please congratulate him. Looking forward to next year’s concert. Richard Cock is king of his castle!! Bravo sir."

CONCERT: J S Bach - St John Passion

Michael Traub / Citizen "....This performance, under the expert direction of Richard Cock, was admirable in every way. The Symphony Choir of Johannesburg, a body much larger than any Bach would have been able to field, sang with great discipline and a finely integrated sound. The Festival Orchestra made attractive sounds all the way and balanced the large choral forces more than adequately, and every one of the soloists produced good tone.

I must single out the contribution of Nicholas Nicolaidis, who sang the exacting role of the Evangelist with unflagging vigour. It is a huge part and must be very taxing on the voice and the intellect. Also to be mentioned specially was the alto, Kathy Neuland, who produced warm, focused sounds. Her timbre is most appealing.

Altogether a great piece of spiritual entertainment for the capacity audience."

CONCERT: Christmas with Richard Cock

"Thank you for the ticket and for a delightful evening of song.  The choir as ever sang very professionally..."

CONCERT: Best of Broadway III

"Just to say that we so enjoyed your concert yesterday.  Both choir and orchestra were fantastic.  Wow, so much energy was put into that performance.  Well done!"

"Well done for yesterday.  We loved the concert – lots of fun.  Thank you!"

"One word: FABULOUS! – and I’ll repeat that : FABULOUS!"

CONCERT: Viva Verdi Festival - Verdi Requiem and Opera Choruses

"....and let me thank you most sincerely for a fantastic Requiem concert yesterday."

"Having enjoyed the Viva Verdi concerts of this last week, we really need to go on the mailing list for future concerts and festivals."

"We attended two of the Verdi concerts and it was fabulous!"

CONCERT: L Bernstein - Chichester Psalms; B Britten - St Nicolas Cantata; P Klatzow - Concerto for Marimba, Vibraphone & Strings

"Indeed a wonderful concert on the 23rd. We and the two friends we brought with us really enjoyed it….…. being sponsors, we always feel we may as well take advantage of our free tickets and stretch ourselves a bit. So far we have not been disappointed, as we have heard (and seen) things we would not normally have experienced…..….. being in the auditorium  and experiencing everything live is a whole different matter and explains why we keep coming, even though the works on offer are unfamiliar and maybe a bit daunting."

"WOW – what a performance you all put on at the Linder last Sunday! I was absolutely gobsmacked and in awe with the overall quality of the production and thoroughly enjoyed the music which I had never heard before – did not want it to end. Friends joined us and no one was disappointed – BRAVO :) Thank you one and all."

"Dear Mr Cock. Firstly, thank you for an amazing performance on Sunday. You are truly a talented person. More importantly, thank you so much for giving the St Peter's boys this fantastic opportunity to perform with you and the wonderful choir and orchestra. I guess I am probably the proudest mum because my son, Tristan, wears hearing aids and he consistently continues to astound us as parents. This is definitely an experience he will treasure forever."

CONCERT: C Orff - Carmina Burana

De Beeld: Thys Odendaal - “... Carl Orff se toneelmatige, deels erotiese kantate is 'n ongewone werk, onbetwisbaar een van die gewildste vir koor en soliste. Wat die musiek-aspekt betref, verdien Richard Cock se leiding lof. Die spel in die orkesbak was puik en die soliste het hul partye baie goed behartig. Die idee om die koor aan die sykante van die Mandela-teater te plaas, is visuel hoogs bevredigend, maar musikaal te gedemp sodat die groot koor deur die orkesbak oorheers is.”

CONCERT: S Taylor-Cloeridge – Hiawatha’s wedding Feast

                   C H Parry/G F Handel  - I Was Glad/Zadok the Priest

Artslink: Moira de Swardt - "The Symphony Choir of Johannesburg sounded very good as they sang the beautiful Charles Hubert Parry piece, “I was glad”, the famous George Frederick Handel piece “Zadok the Priest” and the works of Professor Mzikazi Khumalo. I didn’t know the main featured work of the concert, Hiawatha’s Wedding Feast by Samuel Taylor-Coleridge but I found it to be charming and cheerful. The soloist was Siyabonga Maqungo, a lyrical tenor, and I thought he was wonderful. Richard Cock has now led the Symphony Choir of Johannesburg, originally started in 1947 by the late Edgar Cree, for more than three decades. They will be performing both a Broadway and a Christmas concert later in the year and their concerts often sell out completely, so as soon as you hear adverts for these you should book."

"...... we enjoyed the afternoon very much.  The singing as usual was superb and we both realise the hours of work had gone into the preparation of the Taylor- Coleridge." 

"...... It was a splendid concert, and I enjoyed the Hiawatha particularly.

"...... my friends and I were there on Sunday and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves."

CONCERT: J S Bach – St Matthew Passion

         “ . . . the St Mathew Passion on Friday was absolutely awesome, and very tricky as you promised, but it deserves a special accolade. We just don’t get world class choral music such as this from any other choir/orchestra in the country and it needs to be applauded. I had forgotten just how many different participants are required for this work, but it flowed like clockwork! As to be expected, the choir was excellent, Bernard was outstanding, as was Veramarie, Lynelle and especially Siyabonga, and as a whole, Richard once again provided a massive dose of concert excellence in a unique combination of religious observance and pure entertainment. A very large ‘thank-you’! It was stunning! “

De Beeld: Paul Boekkooi - " .......Dit vereis enorme integriteit op ’n wye musikaal-geestelike vlak om alle aspekte op ’n ewewigtige wyse aan ’n gehoor oor te dra. Dit is nie slegs die lengte (ruim drie uur) nie, maar ook die dramatiese kontraste, insluitende Lutherse korale wat altyd in stemming kontrasteer, wat geïntegreerd binne die geheelkonsep staande moet bly. Richard Cock is een van min dirigente wat jy met dié taak kan toevertrou. Dit is duidelik te hoor in die intensiteit van die openingskoor, of die teerheid en verdriet wat die slotkoor kommunikeer. Die massatonele het ’n gepaste dramatiese uitwerking, die turbae-kore klink gelaai en die korale spreek van geloofsoortuiging........"

Artslink: Moira de Swardt - "The Symphony Choir of Johannesburg brought the 'greatest story ever told' to life on Good Friday under the baton of Richard Cock........ The Linder Auditorium was packed, with only one empty seat, co-incidentally in the row in which I was sitting.... Performances of the Symphony Choir of Johannesburg are always sold out. No artistic attempt was made to mount this work in an historical context, so the work is performed with a huge choir, and six soloists who do not form part of the choir....... I found that overall the pace of the music was somewhat slower than I would have liked......but I was able to enter into the worship experience as we worked our way through the narrative with the story being both told and commented upon......... At many points during the performance I got goosebumps as I shared the sentiments being sung.........."

CONCERT: Poulenc – Gloria & Concerto for 2 Pianos + other French music

          "... a super afternoon yesterday – we really enjoyed the Poulenc concert; the choir was on top form and Francois du Toit and Franklin Larey did a wonderful job on the two pianos - - and Magdaleen Minaar – what can we say – what a superb voice! Thank you once again for all the joy you and the choir bring us."

CONCERT: Rossini – Stabat Mater

"Just to let you know that we thoroughly enjoyed yesterday's performance. We were particularly moved by the two beautiful unaccompanied choruses. Thank you so much for all the hard work you put in to bring such performances to us. You must have gathered from the enthusiastic applause that the concert was appreciated and enjoyed by all."

CONCERT: Handel - Messiah

"Messiah once again was a great experience."

"We thoroughly enjoyed Messiah and thought both Nicholas and Aubrey were particularly good."

CONCERT: Vivaldi: Gloria & Fauré - Requiem

"Just coming down to earth after an absolutely breathtaking concert last night. Thanks somuch for the glorious performance. "

“Thank you so much for the concert. The sound was excellent and the choir very precise – obviously the result of careful rehearsal. It was a most enjoyable evening.”

CONCERT: Carl Orff - Carmina Burana

".... Want you to know how much we enjoyed the Carmina Burana. This was very special with the most beautiful and talented dancers to add to the enjoyment. To celebrate 30 years of the Choir is truly great. Thank you for the wonderful times we have in the music halls all over under your leadership and the passion you have. We know this is very hard work. All the more appreciated. May we experience beautiful music for a long time to come."

"Thank you for a super concert yesterday. Sound, ensemble and concentration were all good - excellent in fact - well done! It was a great occasion and I loved it."

"Carmina Burana was an AMAZING concert!!! Thanks so much and well done to the Choir."

CONCERT: G Verdi's Requiem

  • Yesterday in the aucience I had goosebumps all over.  The music did much more than blow my hair away.  Thanks to you and all the musicians for a performance with soul.
  • Thank you for a most memorable concert - what a great performance!  The Dies Irae was ELECTRIFYING.  The huge choir singing softly was pure magic. 
  • The tribute to Mandela's birthday and introducing Khumalo was a nice touch, making it all very memorable

Michael Traub/Citizen

. . . the Requiem is a severe test for both singers and orchestra, and it needs a masterful hand to control the proceedings. The masterful hand was certainly on display in the shape of the conductor Richard Cock, who directed the music with musicianship and rhythmic tension . . .

Thys Odendaal/Beeld

. . In al die jare wat Cock as koorafrigter en -dirigent in tientalle konserte as ’n besonderse en inspirerende musikus beïndruk het, het dié resensent hom nog nooit só geanimeerd op die verhoog gesien nie. . .
In die geheel was diéRequiem ’n hoogs verdienstelike prestasie, die langdurige applous welverdiende beloning vir die toewyding wat daarmee saamgaan.

"Commemorative Performance "

CONCERT: Handel’s Greatest Hits

. . . I believe that many of the choral items sung were new to the Symphony Choir of Johannesburg, if so, the singers and Cock must be congratulated on performances of the utmost conviction and vocal security. The choral blend and the intonation were impeccable throughout.

"Good form"
CONCERT : Handel’s Messiah

The almost annual performance of Handel’s best and most famous oratorio, Messiah, graced Joburg’s Easter weekend.

The Symphony choir was in good form (precisely focused top notes from the sopranos, for instance), and the Festival Orchestra played with enthusiasm and well graded tone-levels.
Richard Cock knows Messiah like the back of his hand, and his control was exemplary. . . .

The Hallelujah chorus was a triumph. It was quite a sight to see the entire audience rise, in accordance with tradition (begun by King George II), and remain standing till the final cadence.
The audience rose again at the end of the oratorio to give a heartfelt standing ovation for an uplifting musical and spiritual experience.

Cock, soliste en koor puik in 'Nelson-mis'
Thys Odendaal

Jhb Simfonie-koor 25

. . . . it is aan Richard Cock en die Johannesburg Simfonie-koor te danke dat hul 25ste verjaardagvierings ook 'n Haydn-koorwerk insluit, sy dramaties-opwindende Nelson-mis, beskrywend getitel Missa in angustiis.
Soos altyd was Cock volkome tuis voor die musikale kragte - 'n "klassieke" orkes, die groot simfonie-koor en vier knap soliste. . . .
Hoewel die mansstemme in resonansie nie die vroue ewenaar nie, was die koor puik en trefseker.

Stout effort at huge, difficult, Good Friday performance
J.S. BACH ORATORIO: St Matthew Passion

A performance of Bach's St Matthew Passion is a huge and challenging undertaking, for it lasts longer than many operas and makes tremendous demands on the singers and instrumentalists, both technically and interpretively. . . .

The combined choirs were the glory of the evening, with especially moving singing in the beautiful chorales which dot the Passion at significant points.

'Groot asem' nog soek in dié 'Passie'
Paul Boekkooi


. . .Oor dié tydperk was Richard Cock hul vaste dirigent en inspirasie. Die feit dat Johannesburg dié omvangryk-geesverheffende, beskouende en epiesliriese werk kon hoor, is te danke aan Cock en sy bestuur se deurlopende ondernemingsgees. . . .

Sou dié Passie slegs 'n koorwerk wees, dan kon Cock se positiewe hoedanighede byna alles oorheers het, want die openingskoor het voorwaar 'n tragiese intensiteit oorgedra, die slotkore van die eerste en tweede helftes het teerheid en verdriet gesuggereer, terwyl die massatonele dramatiese krag en die sogenaamde turbae-kore 'n geladenheid uitgestraal het.

Daar was ook gepaste stemmingswisselinge in die korale. Met meestal hoogstaande koorprestasies, was dit tog veral in die tweede deel opvallend dat invalle soms weifelend was. . .  

More please!
Music by Haydn & Mozart

A varied and well-chosen programme of music by the classic masters Haydn and Mozart led to a good attendance and, more importantly, superior music-making. The

The Symphony Choir of Johannesburg featured in Mozart's short motet, Ave Verum, and Haydn's Nelson Mass. . . .The choir itself was in good form, revelling in the many beauties of Haydn's ever-interesting score.
Richard Cock displayed his customary expertise in holding together the large band of performers.
More, please!

Inspired oratorio a triumph
ORATORIO: Mendelssohn’s Elijah 

This inspired performance of Mendelssohn’s inspirational music to accompany dramatic events in the life of the prophet Elijah was a major triumph for all concerned.

First to be singled out must be the conductor, Richard Cock, who tackled this vast canvas with assurance and insight. He held the choir together as if with steel cables, and there was scarcely a moment when the ensemble slipped. The orchestra, though sometimes as to the brass instruments, was also cohesive and obedient. . .

What a pity that South Africa does not have the resources for a performance like this to be heard live in other major cities. Nonetheless, a recording was being made for radio listeners, who in due course will be able to get a chance to hear this magnificent oratorio.

'Elijah' lofwaardig
Paul Boekkooi

Elijah (Mendelssohn)

. . .Cock het op dinamiese vlak heelwat bereik om beide die drama en rykdom van die teks aan sy koor oor te dra, met 'n paar mezza voces wat doeltreffend uitgestaan het. Die orkes het baie tot die atmosfeer bygedra. 
Almal se inisiatief en oorgawe verdien lof.

Laudable performance of difficult Mass
CONCERT:Beethoven's Missa Solemnis

Beethoven's Mass in D major, usually referred to as the Missa Solemnis, is an immense undertaking for all the musicians concerned. . . .

Despite the occasional sense of tentativeness about the vocal attack, the performance must be accounted a success, and Richard Cock, who galvanised his forces with his personal zeal, has added yet another feather to his musical cap.

Spiritual music on Good Friday
ORATORIO: St John Passion

A packed house greeted this year's Easter oratorio, given, as is the custom, on Good Friday. It was the turn of Bach's dramatic Passion according to St John, the earlier of his two major Passions. Under the direction of the English conductor and organist Simon Preston, the performance was a great success, with only the slightest momentary flaws. . . .
The Symphony Choir of Johannesburg was in good form throughout the evening. The opening chorus of the work was notable for very clearly enunciated (even aspirated) semiquavers from the choir, and all the chorales had a fine balance of tone between the voices. . .

Fitting climax to Beethoven festival
Beethoven: Choral Fantasy & C minor Mass

The conductor Richard Cock was clearly in his element in this all-Beethoven concert, which offered seldom-heard works: these were the Choral Fantasy and the C minor Mass.. . ..
The Symphony Choir of Johannesburg sang fervently in a work that is new to most of the singers (as performers, of course). . .

A spirited rendition

An all- Mozart concert, the main item of which was the famous Requiem, drew a capacity audience last Sunday afternoon. . .
The Requiem  was given a spirited rendering by all concerned. The Symphony Choir of Johannesburg suffers from a shortage of male voices, but managed a fair blend and an adequate balance of tone. . .

Soloists must be congratulated

Handel’s Messiah

The annual Good Friday performance of Handel's Messiah was gratifyingly well attended, and those who took the trouble to come were presented with one of the better interpretations.

. . . The Symphony Choir of Johannesburg showed plenty of evidence of careful drilling - anyway, they must know Messiah almost by heart by now! . . .

Richard Cock knows Messiah like the back of his hand. His tempi were on the brisk side in accordance with modern interpretations of Baroque style. . . .

Solid renditions of diverse and well-known choruses

A wide range of choral extracts, both secular and sacred, made up the 20th anniversary programme of the Symphony Choir of Johannesburg. . . .For the entire two decades the conductor has been Richard Cock, who directed this concert with his customary flair, and introduced each item in his own inimitable fashion.

There were 18 items in all, . .  .The blend of sound was good, the balance between the various voice-types satisfactory, and the obedience to the conductor exemplary.
The whole auspicious occasion was topped off by a party after the concert to which the entire audience was invited.

Puccini Sondag in Linder vereer
Thys Odendaal

Sondag word hy ook deur die Johannesburgse Simfoniekoor in die Goudstad gehuldig met ’n program waarin dié koor met die Johannesburg Festival Orchestra onder leiding van Richard Cock optree. . . .

. . Die program word afgesluit met Puccini se Messa di Gloria. . . .Cock het op dinamiese vlak heelwat bereik om beide die drama en rykdom van die teks aan sy koor oor te dra




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