GEORGE NEWS - Auditions to recruit talented singers to become members of the South Cape Children's Choir (SCCC) take place annually from August to September.
This acclaimed international performing group is directed by the dynamic choral conductor, Jan-Erik Swart, who recently co-hosted the third annual South Cape Sport Tours "Cantamus!" National Schools Choir Festival in George.
Choir members between the ages of nine and 16 will be selected from all schools in the Mossel Bay, Hartenbos, Great Brak, George, Oudtshoorn, Hoekwil and Knysna regions.
What makes this year's auditions extra special is that the 2018 choir will be participating in the tenth World Olympic Games for Choirs, the largest choral competition in the world, where it will be defending its first place, achieved in 2014 in Riga, Latvia.
Tops, nationally and abroad
The choir is one of the top two children's choirs in South Africa, and has been called the Garden Route's best recent cultural export, having attained first place (cum laude) from among 28 nations at last year's 64th European Festival of Music for Young People in Neerpelt, Belgium. The choir was also the overall winner of the 2014 ATKV competition.
It has been invited to attend the Cork Choral Festival in Ireland in 2018 as part of an all-expenses-paid tour. Plans are also being made to visit Tauranga, New Zealand, as the guest choir of the SCST Cantamus International Choir Festival.
The South Cape Children's Choir was founded in 1996 by past Outeniqua Primary School headmaster and current managing director of Buffelsdrift Game Lodge, Andries van Schalkwyk. The SCCC performed its opening concert with famous South African singer Gé Korsten in Mossel Bay, and celebrated its twentieth year of existence last year in the George Civic Centre. Past conductors include Naomi Koekemoer, Amanda Hattingh and Susan Hattingh, and the choir has been accompanied, among others, by Ronelle Kruger, Olive Sandilands, Throy Peterson, Drini Botha and Sunette Naudé.
Doctorate of music
The current director, Jan-Erik Swart, is a cum laude M.Mus postgraduate of choral conducting (NMU), and has a published academic article in the Africa Journal of Music (2016).
He attended the ninth and 11th world symposia of choral music in Copenhagen and Barcelona, and is preparing to complete his Doctorate of Music, exploring the topic of choral artistic persona at a prominent university.
He has performed regularly at the KKNK and Klein Karoo Klassique festivals with, among others, Chris Chameleon, Jannie Moolman and Rina Hugo, and was honoured with an Illuminated Address by the George Municipality for his service to culture in the City of George. He received a cultural award from the Mossel Bay Municipality as well as the George Music Society.
Swart has adjudicated the Tygerberg International Eisteddfod (2017), the ATKV Applous Finals (2016), the Knysna and East London Eisteddfodau (2016) and the annual national Education Department's National Choral Competition. He has co-ordinated three SCST Cantamus National School Choir Competitions in collaboration with the George Municipality, as part of its cultural tourism development programme, drawing schools from all over South Africa to George during the Women's Day long weekend in August every year.
Members who qualify to sing in the SCCC can expect to receive hands-on, top quality vocal and musical training; vast performance experience on a local, regional, national and international platform; and will be trained to function as ambassadors of music for choral music in South Africa.
Parents often comment that their children become independent, responsible and mature individuals because of their experiences in the choir. Several past members have been accepted to study in top South African and international universities, based on their choral achievements and impeccable musical discipline.
Ironically, the SCCC is better known in Europe than in its own region in South Africa, and is highly ranked by the International Federation of Choral Music.
Who to contact
Parents who would like their children to audition for an experience that no other South African school, college or organisation provides, can contact Louise Swart on 074 170 4349.
Group auditions will be held in George on Saturday, 9 September, at 09:00. Hartenbos/Mossel Bay auditions will take place on the same day at 14:00.
All other auditions will be arranged on an individual basis. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.southcapemusicacademy.co.za for further details about this prominent South African choir that is taking South Africa by storm with its unique choral sound, vast repertoire and intense melodic intensity.
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