UP’s three choirs scoop gold at World Choir Games

Posted on July 16, 2018

The University of Pretoria’s (UP) Youth Choir and Jacaranda Children’s Choir each walked away with a gold medal at the 2018 World Choir Games in Pretoria, while the Onderstepoort Community Choir was awarded a gold diploma at the event, held from 4-14 July. South Africa won the most medals from the 60 participating countries.

The medal table is as follows:


Country Number of medals
South Africa 76
China 25
Russia 17
USA 15
Germany 9

Organised by German-based organisation, Interkultur, the world’s leading organiser of choral competitions and festivals, South Africa was the first country in Africa to host this biennial event. UP was the co-host with more than 300 choirs and over 16 000 participants converging on the Rautenbach Hall, Musaion and Aula on the Hatfield Campus.

Choirs applied to compete instead of needing to qualify. Both accomplished and amateur choirs competed at the appropriate level in two separate competitions: the Champions Competition for choirs with international competitive experience; and the Open Competition, which allowed choirs the opportunity to participate at the appropriate level.

The UP Youth Choir, conducted by Lhente-Mari Pitout competed in the category, Mixed Youth Choir Champions Competitions and scored the highest mark of any of the competing South African Youth Choirs in this category. The choir consists of 90 choristers aged 14 – 19, from greater Tshwane. Their repertoire is an assortment of South African and international music, which incorporates elements of traditional music, jazz, spiritual and folk music. It is recognised worldwide for its award-winning performances and spectacular artistry.

Tomorrow (Tuesday,) it will sing at the Mandela Centenary, which features guest speaker, former US president, Barack Obama. Ms Pitout said ‘we were proud to represent not only the UP name, but also South Africa at the World Choir Games’.

UP Youth Choir

The Jacaranda Children’s Choir was awarded a gold medal in category C2 Children’s Choir/Mix Boys Choir and scored 87,38 points, while Tygerberg Children’s Choir scored 91 points. It is internationally acclaimed and consists of around 95 singers between 9 and 16 years, representing about 52 schools within the Greater Tshwane Metropolitan area.

Its repertoire includes a myriad genres and styles that vary from classical music, jazz and light music to folk music from around the world. Musical Director and Conductor Christo Burger, said ‘not only was it a very proud moment for us to showcase our challenging repertoire in front of an international jury, but the biggest lesson the children experienced was to never give up on a dream, they should always work hard for a goal and always be persistent in achieving that set goal.’

UP Jacaranda Children's Choir

The UP Onderstepoort Community Choir won a gold diploma at their first World Choir Games and were category winners in the Open Competition, Category 06: university and college choirs. Conducted by Edwin Mitas, the choir sings a variety of choral music ranging from native folk, jazz, classical and modern choral works. Mr Mitas said ‘the UP Onderstepoort Community Choir has demonstrated a high level of choral singing. This has been an amazing journey and we have worked extremely hard to achieve our goal and now look forward to defending our title at the 11th World Choir Games in Belgium in 2020.’

Onderstepoort Community Choir

Prof Vasu Reddy, Dean of the Faculty of Humanities, said: 'The Faculty of Humanities and indeed South Africa is extremely proud of the UP Choirs for their remarkable achievement on winning gold at the World Choir Games. The Faculty is proud of you and you have given us reason to hold up our heads high. In a weekend of high sport achievements for South Africa with Kevin Anderson in the Wimbledon final, we relish also in the achievements of our young artists such as the UP Youth Choir and the Jacaranda Children’s Choir, for putting us as a Faculty and as a university on a winning streak, on the map of the Choir Olympics. You have done an incredibly inspiring job. We wish the UP choirs all the best.’

According to Henriette Brockman, Communications Manager of the World Choir Games, South Africa was a ‘fantastic host and the international guests had a great time. And as Interkultur President, Günter Titsch stated in his closing speech, ‘‘we've enjoyed our time here and I promise you we will come back to South Africa, to your wonderful country!’’’

The UP Youth Choir will perform in the Musaion, on Friday, 20 July at 18:30. They will be joined by the Waelrant Youth Choir from Antwerp, Belgium and the Canadian Youth Choir, Kokopelli from Alberta. In December, the choir will embark upon an international tour of Hungary, Slovenia and Austria, and will compete in the International Festival of Advent and Christmas Music in Bratislava, Slovakia.


- Author Primarashni Gower

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