Choir initiative brings together cream of local amateur choirs


The cream of South Africa’s amateur choirs gathered with pomp and elegance on Monday for the first of three awards events presented by the Legato Choir Festival this week.

Constantiapark Primary School Senior Choir walked away with the laurels in the category for exceptional performance in ensemble singing. This is their performance of Donald Patriquin’s composition “J’entends le moulin”.

In the category for exceptional musical performance, the University of Pretoria Chorale won for their performance of Morten Lauridsen’s composition “Dirait-on”.

Thanks to the Legato Choir Festival, new energy was unleashed in the South African choral landscape this year with the presentation of 14 festival concerts in which a total of 53 amateur choirs participated.

“It is important for the board that choirs have a festival platform where their passion and love for choral singing, and their musicality can be showcased for appreciative audiences. We presented the choir festival for the second time this year with great success, and we are working hard to expand it to other regions as well.

“The artistic and creative skills of the choirs that participated this year were of the highest standard. In light of this, it is clear that South Africa has some of the best amateur choirs in the world,” says Tiaan Ras, the festival’s director of strategy, public relations and events.

Following this year’s festival concerts, eleven choirs, three accompanists and two conductors were nominated in nine categories of the first Legato Choir Awards.

“With this, we want to honor choirs for outstanding work in the form of special awards. We are not going to try to be a competition or an eisteddfod, but rather create a platform where choirs can introduce their own repertoire, live out their passion for choral singing, and share their hard work with audiences,” says Christopher Vale, head of operations at the Legato Choir Festival.

On Tuesday, among others, the Eldoraigne Girls’ Choir, the Pretoria-East Primary School Junior Choir and the Rheinberger Chamber Choir will compete in three categories. The Legato Award for exceptional contribution to the South African choral music landscape will also be presented to choir organizer Marlie Theron.

Highlights of the final awards event, which takes place on September 15, include the presentation of the awards for Outstanding Choral Accompaniment and Outstanding Choral Conduct.

Jannie le Roux (Pretoria-Oos Primary School Junior Choir), Betsie van Schaap (Constantiapark Primary School Senior Choir) and Andrea Mitas (University of Pretoria Chorale) are competing for the award for outstanding choral accompaniment. In the category for outstanding choral conducting, Raine Pienaar (University of Pretoria Chorale) and Daleen de Kock (Bronberg Children’s Choir) face each other.

An independent, expert advisory panel determines which choirs, conductors and accompanists are honored with an award at the three separate Legato Choir Awards concerts.

The panel consists of Elmie Kruger, choir conductor and judge, Lihan Pretorius, CEO of the Naledi Theater Awards, and Sizwe Mondlane, conductor of Veni Cantare and assistant conductor of the University of Johannesburg’s choir.

Choir lovers can join this great event tonight (12 September) and Friday 15 September. Tickets are available on AfriForum Theatre’s website.