Students waited in a queue in the blazing midday sun on 4 May 2017, to get a seat at the complimentary lunch-hour concert by the world’s best amateur choir. “I’ve been waiting here since 12h00”, Sean Mdungazi, said. Still, about 50 students had to be turned away as the 400 seat Endler Hall at the Stellenbosch University Conservatorium had been filled to the brim.
The Stellenbosch University choir made use of this opportunity to perform their new repertoire of 13 songs for 2017 to adoring campus fans. This served as a practice round before their performance to their two sold-out gala concerts on 6 and 7 May at the same venue.
Luné van Wyk, member of the prestigious choir conducted by world renowned conductor André van der Merwe said that two songs to look out for this year were “The Witch” and “African Medley”.
The repertoire is filled with African songs, modern music as well as international songs. Two songs to interest younger listeners not accustomed to choral music are a rendition of Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Car”, which had recently made billboard charts again as a cover by Jonas Blue, and an Afrikaans song “Wonder vir Altyd”.
The choir will also be making use of this opportunity to launch their first long awaited album in two years. This album includes hits from last year’s repertoire, as well as “Say Something”, which hit its first million views in March this year on YouTube. The song was originally written by A Great Big World and reworked by the Acapella group Pentatonix, which was then reworked into a choir rendition by van der Merwe.
The choir, with over 100 members, is composed entirely of students from the university who voluntarily rehearse twice a week for 5 hours in total. This is not including rehearsals for performances, says van Wyk. Some students have been members for seven years.
The choir currently holds the record for the highest score obtained at The World Choir Games held every second year. They are funded by Woordfees and donations made by the general public.
They have performed at private events, and have also been featured on the Afrikaans TV show Varsity Sing! as the best university choir in South Africa.