People and Places, July 2016

The National Arts Festival began on 30 June, and with it Spiritfest, which had its official opening that day in the “Cathedral Coffee Shop” (otherwise known as the Chapter House).

Penny Whitford and AJ Bethke, Spiritfest's Honoured Guests.
Penny Whitford and AJ Bethke, Spiritfest’s Honoured Guests.

This year Spiritfest had two Honoured Guests, Penny Whitford and AJ Bethke. Both these musicians have made an invaluable contribution to the artistic and spiritual life of the town, the Cathedral as a whole and Spiritfest in particular. Sadly, both are stepping down. Penny is retiring after over ten years training and directing the St Michael’s Marimbas, and AJ has given notice that he will be moving on after Easter next year. Their Citations can be read here. Many congratulations to them on this well-deserved award.

Rhodes Vice-Chancellor Sizwe Mabizela listens as Dean Andrew Hunter reads his Citation.

Another award was given at the Choral Evensong on the first Friday evening of the Festival. Dean Andrew Hunter has inaugurated the Dean’s Award, to acknowledge any individual, not necessarily a member of the Cathedral or the Anglican Church, who has made a significant contribution to the life of the community. The recipient for 2016, and the first ever to receive the Award, was the Vice Chancellor of Rhodes University, Dr Sizwe Mabizela, for his ethical, values-based leadership during tumultuous times in the life of the university and community (full text of Citation here.) The Choral Evensong featured the Cathedral Choir, both adults and juniors, conducted by Andrew-John Bethke, and the music reflected the work of South African composers and hymn-writers. Among the composers was Owen Franklin, a retired Anglican priest now living in Johannesburg, who was present in the congregation, as well as AJ himself.

AJ Bethke conducts the Gate Quartet and Cathedral Chamber Singers.

On the following morning AJ’s work was showcased at a concert in the Cathedral with the Gate Quartet, (which includes Hayley Jackson), and a select choir, about half of whom were adult members of the Cathedral Choir. They sang AJ’s “Chamber Eucharist” as a concert piece, followed by his First String Quartet which had been premiered the previous month. And on the Sunday morning the Chamber Eucharist was repeated in the context for which it was written, during the 09:30 service. Both of these lovely works draw on many different musical traditions from Africa and beyond. At his organ recital on the first Friday of the Festival, AJ gave us “three Frenchman and a Brit.”

Bayanda Mthetho, one of the junior choristers, played the piano in the Junior section of the National Grahamstown Music Competition. He is among a number of Cathedral Choir juniors who receive a grant from our Choir School to pay for instrumental training.

As winter chill began to bite, Duma Myemane was one of three local women who felt deeply concerned about children who had to go to school without jackets. Through their campaign, “Tag a child Winter”, 60 pupils from six local primary schools received cosy wind-breakers.

Eleanor Barker, a devoted member of the Cathedral congregation over many years, who has been resident in Brookshaw Home, died in June. We give thanks for her life. She was an accomplished needlewoman, and a tapestry by her hangs in the Cory Room.

Andrew Tracey and Peter Breetzke have both had operations recently. We give thanks that they are doing well. Jeanette Eve was about to celebrate her birthday when she had to be rushed to hospital, but she recovered in time to be able to go to KwaZulu Natal as planned to stay with her daughter. Rose Buchner had a nasty fall, but is on the mend. We pray for Malixole, husband of Nompumelelo Magwa-Bobotyani, who has been in hospital. Bishop Ebenezer went to Gauteng for surgery to his jaw to implant tooth replacements, and we pray for the success of this operation.

Gill Meyer’s daughter was married recently in the St Andrew’s College Chapel. We congratulate the happy couple and pray for blessings on their life together.

Br JohnAfter eighteen years at Mariya uMama weThemba Monastery, Brother John Forbis OHC is returning home to the United States. He was among the pioneering first three Brothers to come to Hillandale, along with the then Prior Timothy Jolley and the late Brother Andrew Colquhoun. We wish him every blessing in the next phase of his ministry.

People and Places is compiled by Maggy Clarke, Please send items of news to her at:, or as comments to this blog.

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