About Us


For more than 21 years Arena Group Music has been responsible for organising
international music tours, seminars and concerts for musical schools in
South Africa and Europe. We have also organised many other
events all over the world since 2004,
starting off with a music tour to Europe for several choirs from
South Africa.
We have organised various events that have been met with
great acclaim. One of our most recent events was a Choir Tour to Europe for
Rhenish Girls High School Choir from Stellenbosch.
Arena Group is cooperating with Music Agency Bratislava Europe (Director Mr.Milan Kolena), many partners,EU embassies,
to organize the Cape Town International  Choir & Orchestra Festival.Festival will take place in Stellenbosch,
the second oldest city in South Africa, which is close to the famous city Cape Town.
We are expecting the festival to be a great success with more than 18  choirs ,orchestras  and dance group participating in this
exciting event.
We are looking forward to welcoming you in South Africa to explore this beautiful country
as well as to experience new different cultures in the Southern hemisphere.


Peter Vetro

Executive Director





Federico Bardazzi studied the cello in Siena and Paris.
He continued his studies in chamber music, composition,
Gregorian chant as well as basso continuo, viola da gamba and choir conducting, orchestral direction.

Bardazzi, with the Ensemble San Felice, the vocal and instrumental group whose repertoire is mainly medieval to contemporary sacred music, has concentrated particularly on music by Bach, conducting the B minor Mass, the Six German Motets, the Johannes Passion, the Brandenburg Concertos and numerous Cantatas. He also devotes himself to 17th century music, and has presented rarely performed music by Marco da Gagliano, Frescobaldi, Carissimi, Buxtehude, Jeronimo de Carrion and François Couperin in numerous festivals in Italy and abroad. Amongst the most successful performances by Bardazzi is a personal version of the “Magnificat”, sponsored by the European Union. „El cant de la Sibilla“, a program of medieval Catalan music presented at the Festival dei Due Mondi in Spoleto, „Nigra sum sed formosa“, cantigas de Santa Maria and “Quem queritis“ the medieval liturgical drama based on Florentine codices were equally successful. In September 2005 he was invited to hold a concert at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London, for the Oxford University Press Early Music Weekend.

Federico Bardazzi is the founder and artistic director of the Accademia San Felice that not only holds numerous yearly courses in its Music School, but also organises the Musica Sacra dal Mondo week, the International Festival of Youth Orchestras and In-canto Gregoriano, international meetings in Florence on the re-appraisal of early liturgical music, from both a scientific and interpretative point of view.

Recordings by the Ensemble San Felice directed by Federico Bardazzi include the Six German Motets by Johann Sebastian Bach, the first world recording of the Messa sopra l’aria di Fiorenza by Girolamo Frescobaldi (Bongiovanni), the Cantigas de Santa Maria di Alfonso X “Nigra sum sed Formosa” (Bongiovanni), the medieval Florentine liturgical drama “Quem Queritis?” (Tactus), which they performed on numerous tours in Italy and abroad.

Federico Bardazzi was professor of chamber music for strings and Baroque music at the Vincenzo Bellini Conservatory in Palermo, and now holds the same post at the Luca Marenzio Conservatory in Brescia. This has lead to regular and fruitful collaboration with the Ensemble Barocco Marenzio in Brescia and the Antiche Armonie choir in Bergamo, directed by Giovanni Duci. He is Director of Maggio Fiorentino Formazione and member of the International Committee of the AISCGre (International Association for Gregorian Chant)


Milan Kolena – conductor and Art Director of choir Apollo, conductor of Schola Gregoriana Bratislavensis. He studied piano, singing and choir conducting at the Zilina Conservatory After graduating with a degree in Choral Conducting at the University of Musical Arts (VSMU) in Bratislava under the tutelage of Prof. Peter Hradil, he continued his studies in sacred music at  VSMU. .He also continued his studies of Gregorian Chant with Prof. J. Kohlhaufl  at the Universität für Musik und Darstellende Kunst in Vienna  where he  is the author of the first Slovak professional publication on Gregorian chant: ”Súčasné smery v interpretácii gregorianskeho choralu” (Current Directions in Interpretation of Gregorian Chant). He actively cooperates in the interpretation of Gregorian chant with Prof. Dr. F.K. Prassl from Graz and Prof. Dr. J.B. Goschl from Munich.

Milan Kolena was an assistant with the Chlapčenský zbor choir (boys choir) in Bratislava and was conductor of the Spevácky zbor bratislavských učitelov (Bratislava Teachers Choir). He teaches choir conducting and Gregorian chant at  VŠMU. Since 1998 Milan Kolena has been the Art Director of the International Sacred Music Choir Festival in Námestovo. Since 2006 he is the art director of several annual choir music festivals in Bratislava:

  • International choir festival „Musica sacra“
  • International choir festival „Slovakia Cantat“
  • International festival of Advent and Christmas music
  • International festival of Gregorian chant
  • International youth music festival

He has toured many European countries with choir Apollo and has won several prizes in international competitions:

1998: The first place and a special award for style performance of the competition program at the      International choir festival „Pražské dny sborového spěvu“ in Prague, Czech Republic

2002: Special award for excellent performance of Czech sacred music at the international choir   competition “Jaro se Otvira” in Český Krumlov , Czech Republic

2005: Gold Medal, International choir competition “Svátky Písne Olomouc”, Czech Republic

He is active as jury member at national and international choral competitions in Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia, Italy, Lithuania, Belgium, Russia. He performs workshops and seminars on vocal polyphony and Gregorian chant in foreign universities and festivals (Jihlava, Olomouc, Pecka, Bratislava, Námestovo, Banská Bystrica, Katowice, Kaunas, St. Petersburg, Moscow, Yekaterinburg).

In 2005 – 2007 the he was engaged with his Gregorian scholar in recording of three Bratislava antiphonaries from the end of 15th century. The recordings have been released in CD in cooperation with Slovak national library in Martin and with University library in Bratislava. The recording was conducted as a part of UNESCO world project “World’s Memory” in Slovakia.

sonja_van_amstel-JUDGESONJA VAN AMSTEL

is a conductor, music teacher, adjudicator and performing artist from Stellenbosch, South Africa. While doing her BMus at the University of Stellenbosch (1980 – 1984) she regularly performed as solo vocalist with the University of Stellenbosch Choir. During this time she also won several awards, including prize-winner at the Cape Town Eisteddfod (1983) and category winner of the SABC Music Prize Competition (1985). During 1984 she was also a finalist for the Mimi Coertse Bursary and semi-finalist of the first UNISA International Singing Competition.

After completion of her BMus she left for further vocal training in London, where she received an Advanced Opera Diploma at the Royal Academy of Music in 1988. During this time she secured lead roles in several operas performed at the Royal Academy of Music, including Midsummer Night’s Dream (Britten), Queen of the Night (Mozart), Marriage of Figaro,(Mozart), Julius Caesar (Handel).

Back in South Africa Sonja completed several conducting courses and started her career in choral conducting in 1991 at Drakensberg Senior Primary School. Since then she has gained experience in the training and leading of large choirs (85 – 120 singers), including the Northern Kwa-Zulu Natal Youth Choir whom she took to the Prague International Choir Festival, winning a silver certificate.

Sonja has acted as vocal and choral adjudicator at various Eisteddfods throughout South-Africa. At present she conducts two choirs: Rhenish Girls’ High Choir and Paul Roos Choir in Stellenbosch.


Luthando Mangali is a co-founder and the Marketing Director of Phenomenal Opera Voices based in Khayelitsha, Cape Town in South Africa, he started his Choral and Opera music career at an early age from Khayelitsha Primary School, he then went on to Secondary School and still continued with his Choral and Opera music.Luthando has been in the music fraternity since then and he is now a co- founder of an Opera group (Phenomenal Opera Voices).

During his years at the high school level he won numerous musical accolades e.g.


  1. Provincial Champion in the Small Ensemble (Quartet) in 2004 and became a 1st contender Nationally
  2. 2nd Contender in Baritone Sections composed by WA Mozart from the Don Giovanni Productions
  3. He performed with Cape Town Chorus from 2003 -2005 for various works of Giuseppe Verdi (La traviatta and Macbeth)
  4. 2010 he did the various works at the South African Post Office Choral Eisteddfod with Khayelitsha Chorale Singers
  5. 2002 -2012 he did various productions in the Old Mutual National Choir Festival

Apart from him being an Opera Singer Luthando is assisting the Phenomenal Opera Voices Music Director with the Voice Training majoring in Tenors and Baritones/Basses).

Luthando did numerous works of WA Mozart, Giuseppe Verdi, Handel’s Messiah, Puccini and other Vernacular Renditions composed by our own South African music composers such as Mr. Qinisela Sibisi, Mzilikazi Khumalo, JP Mohapeloa etc.

Luthando is currently driving the Quality Management functions in the Consulting Engineering firm based in Tygervalley, however this did not take his love of music away, he is now taking his music during weekends and the evenings.

Luthando is currently planning to enroll for Piano classes and hoping to complete these in September 2013.

He studied for Marketing Management, Quality Management as well as Project Management majored in Construction all with the Cape Peninsula University of Technology based in Cape Town, South Africa.