A fully packed auditorium gave Stellenbosch University Choir (USK) a standing ovation at their last concert of the season at Hugo Lambrechts Hall in Parow on 13 May.
This was the fifth performance and their third Gala concert evening. “We wouldn’t be doing this if it didn’t give hope and encouragement,” André van der Merwe, the conductor said to the audience. “Without your support we could not exist and we are so grateful!” he added.
The repertoire was initially meant for a second season of Varsity Sing, a television show that saw all choirs of major South African universities compete against one another. Unfortunately this season had been cancelled.
“The repertoire is much lighter than the previous years, which is interesting for us as the choir but also perhaps a good thing for audience members that are new to choral music,” Fred Mudge, a tenor singer said.
Shaen Maré added: “It’s my sixth year in the choir and what makes it wonderful is that it is a social gathering I wouldn’t have been able to find anywhere else had it not been for our shared passion of music. We have students from all walks of life and this is the only time I get to interact with students from Tygerberg campus. It becomes family.”
The choir also made use of these performances to debut their new album “Shadows & Wings”. “The name comes lyrics of the first song on the album Sleep my Child, but is also a play on words to represent darkness and light. The album represents both these facets of life,” van der Merwe explained.
“What’s exciting of having been in the choir during the recordings is that when you listen to the album you finally get to hear it from the audience’s perspective and it truly is a surreal experience. I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished,” said Minenhle Buthelezi, a second soprano in the choir.
This year the choir consists of 117 members who voluntarily rehearse biweekly with world renowned conductor André van der Merwe. They have been ranked as the world’s number 1 amateur choir by Interkultur for 3 consecutive years.
“I’d suggest to new and old fans alike to buy and listen to our new album. Honestly, it’s the best work we’ve put out there. It’s really as simple as that.” van der Merwe said.
After the popular “Photograph” from Ed Sheeran was performed by the choir, van der Merwe turned to the audience and joyfully stated; “They [the choir] give me wings.”–Andeline Wieland and Martinette Hay