The internationally celebrated Stellenbosch University (SU) Choir will on Friday embark on a concert tour which will take them via London and Wales to the 2018 World Choir Games in Tshwane in Gauteng.
André van der Merwe, the conductor of the SU Choir, said the tour will kick off on Sunday with a concert in the newly refurbished Purcell Room in the London Southbank Centre, Europe’s largest centre of the arts. From London, the choir would travel via Bath to Wales where they will take part in the prestigious Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod from 5 to 8 July.
“For every artist, it is important to test his work on the international stage. It is a wonderful opportunity for growth to see how your own culturally specific repertoire is received in an international context. We perform interesting music, and I am curious to see how audiences respond. The SU Choir will be exposed to international choirs at the top of their game. We will share and learn. And I am excited to show how choirs make an important contribution to nation building in our country,” added Van der Merwe.
Van der Merwe said the festival attracts around 50 000 visitors and 4 000 participants annually, including 150 choirs, from across the world. The SU Choir was one of only four choirs invited to perform in the International Celebration Concert in front of an audience of 2 000. This concert was the official opening of the Llangollen Eisteddfod and was broadcast on British TV.
The SU Choir will also take part in the colourful International Parade through Llangollen, which sees the participating choirs walk through the city as representatives of their countries. The highlight of the Llangollen Eisteddfod is the Choir of the World competition concerts. The SU Choir will compete in three categories – Youth Choirs, Mixed Choirs and Open Choirs.
The choir will then return to South Africa for the 2018 World Choir Games in Tshwane in which more than 300 choirs from across the world will participate.
Van der Merwe said the SU choir was not allowed to participate in the competition because he was the chairperson of the artistic committee of the Choir Games. The SU Choir has, however, been invited to perform as a demonstration choir at the Choir Games.
The SU Choir has been number one on the Interkultur ranking list of a 1 000 international choirs for the past five years, but Van der Merwe emphasised that it was never about winning or losing.
“For me and the choir, there is nothing at stake on this tour. My choir members know the result of a competition, win or lose, must never be allowed to determine who you are. We are here for the music. We take part in a competition to challenge our own standards and to perform the music as beautifully as possible. Everything else is a bonus.”