Baxter Music Programme

The Baxter Theatre Music Programme is a highlight of the University of Cape Town’s annual Summer School. It was launched in 1996, with the express purpose of integrating academically grounded discussions of music with actual performance. It has grown from strength to strength, over the last three years drawing audiences of over 500 every night. The programme typically consists of lecture-performances by some of Cape Town’s most acclaimed musicians over three or two evenings.


In 2020 we will host:

  • Barry Smith with Homage to Handel (Monday 20–Tuesday 21 Jan at 8.00 pm)
    Grant McLachlan with A brief history of harmony, the universe and everything (Wednesday 22–Friday 24 January at 7.30 pm)
    Gustavo Romero with Great piano masterworks (Thursday 23–Friday 24 January at 3.00 pm)



Dr Barry Smith, musicologist, conductor and organist

Handel and Bach are often called ‘The Gemini of the Baroque’, but their works demonstrate that they are by no means identical twins. Bach wrote principally for the church, with passions, cantatas and organ works dedicated to the glory of God. Handel’s compositions are intended for the sheer enjoyment of his secular audiences and royalty, as well as for the church, with much-loved orchestral works, oratorios and operas. These two lecture-performances will show Handel’s all-embracing and genial genius in a cheerful concerto grosso, some catchy harpsichord and organ music as well as in evergreen vocal and choral highlights from works which have stirred audiences over the past three centuries.

To mark Barry’s eightieth birthday UCT Summer School thanks him for the wealth of superb music he has brought to participants over the years. The invitation to present this course is a tribute to his special feeling for Handel.

Date: Monday 20–Tuesday 21 January 
Time: 8.00 pm
Venue: Baxter Concert Hall, Rondebosch
COURSE FEES: Full R360 Staff & Students R180 Casual R180 Casual Staff & Students R90




Grant McLachlan, composer

This course, which covers a thousand years of classical music, is designed for the classical music lover and concert-goer. It will give participants an understanding of the extraordinary journey that harmony has gone through as it developed over the centuries, and how it has arrived at the musical language we understand and love today.
The first lecture-performance covers medieval plainsong up to the age of discovery and the glorious flowering of harmony after 1500. The second lecture-performance explores ways in which music is designed from the early eighteenth century to keep the attention of a concert audience. The chamber music ensemble is led by Dr Becky Steltzner. The final evening looks at how harmony and dissonance interact to affect our emotions. The baroque orchestra will be led by Lucia di Blasio Scott with Nic De Jager as countertenor.

1. Medieval to Renaissance: plainsong and music by Abelard, Dufay and Tallis with choral music performed by Vox Cape Town
2. The age of the concert: Mozart, Chopin, Debussy and Messiaen
3. The Baroque period: Gibbons to Bach: Monteverdi, Gibbons, Purcell, Vivaldi, Bach


Date: Wednesday 22–Friday 24 January
Time: 7.30 pm 
VENUE: Baxter Theatre Concert Hall
COURSE FEES: Full R540 Staff & Students R270  Tickets at the door Full R180 Staff & Students R90



Professor Gustavo Romero, pianist

In celebration of the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth in 2020, this course will explore and present performances of Beethoven’s greatest piano sonatas. Beethoven was a revolutionary man living in a revolutionary time. He captured his inner voice – demons and all – and the spirit of his time and in doing so created a body of music the like of which no-one had ever before imagined. A virtuoso at the keyboard, Beethoven used the piano as his personal musical laboratory and the piano sonata became, more than any other genre of music, a place where he could experiment with harmony, motivic development, the contextual use of form, and, most importantly, his developing view of music as a self-expressive art.

1. Beethoven’s early and middle period piano sonatas: Op. 13, Pathétique, Op. 27. No. 2, Moonlight, Op. 57, Appassionata
2. Beethoven’s early and late period piano sonatas: Op. 14, No. 2, Op. 78, Op. 101, Op. 109

Date: Thursday 23–Friday 24 January

Time: 3.00 pm 

VENUE: Baxter Theatre Concert Hall

COURSE FEES: Full R360 Staff & Students R180  Tickets at the door Full R180 Staff & Students R90