“It took me 40 years to bring together my classical training, years of stage experience and love for liturgical music. This is the opportunity of a lifetime for me,” Nataniël recounts Mass for the Good Princes, his latest musical creation that will soon be seen on the stage.
This concert will be presented twice on 29 October by Momentum Beleggings Aardklop Aubade at the Afrikaans Hoër Seunskool (Affies) in Pretoria.
Nataniël agreed to speak with RNews on the phone between rehearsals, costume fittings and musical preparations Mass for the Good Princes to chat
In this podcast, Nataniël explains what exactly a musical mass entails, where the idea took hold at the time, and what audiences can expect from the program. He also tells more about his latest collection of short stories, Help, Helpand the retelling of his godchild, Giulia le Roux’s book originally published in French.
Musical misses a first for Nataniël
Every time you talk to Nataniël, he is busy working on more than one production at the same time. Meanwhile, the tickets for his concerts are constantly selling like hotcakes.
Nataniël’s approach to each of his productions is exactly the same: thought through to the finest detail, costume design of the highest quality, exquisite music that takes audiences on a journey and moves them, and well-thought-out stories that speak to people’s hearts.
With Mass for the Good Princes Nataniël builds on this recipe for success, but there is one aspect that stands out: He has literally been dreaming for years about presenting his own musical mass.
“I think for hours about every note, it has to be beautiful and moving for absolutely everyone. Colleagues and classmates and friends who know my way, travel from the farthest places to Sunday’s two concerts of Mass for the Good Princes attend.”
This concert is based on the classical structure of a composition with five, six or seven parts, and it is a prayer for goodness, new leadership and the hope of a new generation. The mass is sung in Latin and English, with narrations and descriptions in Afrikaans.
As many times before, Nataniël shares the stage with famous and award-winning musicians. It includes Ockie Vermeulen (organ), Charl du Plessis (keyboard), Juan Oosthuizen (guitar), Werner Spies (bass), Peter Auret (drums and percussion) and the Akustika Chamber Choir, led by Christo Burger.
Nataniël reimagines godchild’s French story
RNews reported in 2022 that 9-year-old Giulia le Roux became one of the youngest authors in France after her father, Erik le Roux, quietly published her book, Cinq Plumes Perdues (Five Lost Feathers), had published.
Nataniël, Erik’s brother and the godfather of his two daughters, said at the time that he was incredibly proud of Giulia and that her story was truly touching.
“Giulia’s story moves you when you first see it in her handwriting, in French, because she writes about things that adults have not learned. It is a beautiful story with animals as main characters and with a life lesson about togetherness. I hope it becomes a epic thing that will last forever.”
In the meantime, he added action to the word and worked with Giulia to bring her story to life in Afrikaans and English. These versions, with the titles, Five lost feathers and Five Lost Feathershas just appeared at Lapa Publishers.
Nataniël says the writing process was a collaboration between him, Erik and Giulia, who can also speak English.
“I sat next to Giula and repeatedly asked her to tell me in her own words what the story was about. In between, Erik also helped where the language stuck us.
“Giulia’s story was therefore not translated verbatim, because such a thing is almost impossible between French and Afrikaans. The languages are incredibly different in terms of rhythm and poetic use of language.”
A collection of short stories from Nataniël’s pen has also recently been published. Help, help is a compilation of 29 stories, 5 in English and 24 in Afrikaans.
With this volume, Nataniël wants to take readers on a journey to the surreal world of guesthouses in the countryside; cloth shops with no pretty cloth in sight; a counter with the most breathtaking olive oil, glazed, crystal clear kumquats and fleshy vanilla pods; and Christmas in small towns that look like a mini universe.
- Tickets for Mass for the Good Princes cost R260 and R290, and can be booked at Ticketpros.
- Listen to the full interview with Nataniël at the top of the article Mass for the Good Princesand his two latest books, Help, help and Five lost featherswhich has just appeared.
- Read an extract Help, help on RNews.