Press Release: VUURBEES | FIRE BEAST
Vuurbees | Fire Beast
Choir: Vox Chamber Choir
Marimba and percussion: Magdalena de Vries
Piano: Eugene Joubert
Cello: Carel Henn
Additional Percussion: Herman Swanepoel
Date: 31 October 2021
Venue: Level -3 Basement Parking, King Price Building, Menlyn, Pretoria
Collaborating visual artists: Sonya Rademeyer; Willem van den Heever; Griet van der Meulen; André van Rensburg
VUURBEES | FIRE BEAST
Inspired by the iconic poem by Afrikaans poet DJ Opperman, Vuurbees, the Vox Chamber Choir with composer and conductor, Franco Prinsloo, presents this “creative expression of advocacy for environmental protection”.
According to the United Nations, “Billions of tons of CO2 are released into the atmosphere every year as a result of coal, oil, and gas production. Human activity is producing greenhouse gas emissions at a record high, with no signs of slowing down. According to a ten-year summary of UNEP Emission Gap reports, we are on track to maintain a “business as usual” trajectory.
The last four years were the four hottest on record. According to a September 2019 World Meteorological Organization report, we are at least one degree Celsius above pre-industrial levels and close to what scientists warn would be “an unacceptable risk”. The 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change calls for holding eventual warming to “well below” two degrees Celsius, and for the pursuit of efforts to limit the increase even further to 1.5 degrees. But if we don’t slow global emissions, temperatures could rise to above three degrees Celsius by 2100, causing further irreversible damage to our ecosystems.”
Composer and conductor, Franco Prinsloo, addresses the devastating damage human activity has done to our environment by presenting newly composed choral works alongside video installation art by South African artists Sonya Rademeyer, Griet van der Meulen, Willem van der Heever and André van Rensburg.
Prinsloo’s compositions are presented in an unconventional concert space, the parking basement of a new development in Menlyn, Pretoria. The acoustics of this particular urban space allow for an enhanced listening experience and simultaneously confronts the audience with humanity’s disunion with nature. The simulation of a post-apocalyptic underground bunker allows the listener a space to imagine a cataclysmic future and to contemplate the actions necessary to work towards a sustainable future.
The programme is compiled of original compositions, each addressing current environmental issues and exploring the human impact on our planet. These include “Vuurbees” (Fire Beast) by DJ Oppermann, “Terrella: I. Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?”, Cantata “Modimo” and “RED LIST “AB-AF" and many more.
The programme is further complemented with works like “Walvisnota” (based on a poem by René Bohnen) that utilizes a choral evocation of a whale song to great effect as well as Prinsloo’s setting of biblical text “Vox Clama Dicentis” (Isaiah 40:8), a rumination on the fleeting nature of life: “The grass withers and the flowers fall when the breath of the Lord blows on them; indeed, the people are grass.”
In an effort to further extend our advocacy efforts, the Vox Chamber Choir has partnered with two local non-profit organisations, the Mabula Ground Hornbill Project and the Little Rhino Orphanage.
Through our partnership with these organisations, the Vox Chamber Choir hopes to support these projects by helping them to increase their visibility. Our audiences will also be invited to support these organisations by donating to, and sharing their causes. Furthermore, Vox Chamber Choir will donate 10% of every ticket sold to the Little Rhino Orphanage and the Mabula Ground Hornbill Project, respectively. Audience members are encouraged to please bring 2L plastic bottles and Bokomo Pronuto Original with them to the concert as a donation for The Little Rhino Orphanage. This will be used to feed the baby rhinos at the Orphanage.
A) Mabula Ground Hornbill Project
Southern Ground-hornbills are internationally considered “Vulnerable" throughout their sub-equatorial range in Africa. Within South Africa and Namibia they have already been classified as "Endangered" by the IUCN and their numbers outside of formally protected areas are declining. In South Africa their populations are continuously declining and they are in danger of becoming "Critically Endangered". Some of the reasons cited for their decline are loss of habitat, bush-encroachment and development, overgrazing, large-scale monoculture, loss of large nesting trees, secondary poisoning due to lead toxicosis from spent lead ammunition; and electrocution by electric transformers.
B) The Little Rhino Orphanage
The Little Rhino Orphanage is a non-profit organization focused on caring, feeding and saving wildlife orphans in South Africa. They are also committed to educating the public and private sector on wildlife and environmental conservation.
The Vox Chamber Choir would like to thank WS Pianos for sponsoring the grand piano for this concert. Werner Stolze comes from a long line of Master Piano Builders and is a 4th generation legacy. His great-grandfather, Willy Kurt Hutzelmann, started the family factory in 1919 in Eisenberg, Germany. His factory was the one of few Piano Factories in East Germany to survive World War II. The Stolze family immigrated and settled in South Africa in 1953. Kurt and Wilfried Stolze, father and son, continued their piano trade in South Africa and established their own company, WS Pianos.
The Vox Chamber Choir would also like to extend our greatest thanks to King Price Insurance for providing the venue for the concert.