The Wits Choir celebrates the anniversary this year of its first public concert in 1962 with a grand 50th birthday celebration concert.
The need for a choir at Wits University was realised as far back as 1961, by two engineering students, who went on to start the Wits University Choir. Wits Choir had its inaugural concert on 3 October 1962 in the Wits Great Hall under the leadership of John Blacking.
The Concert takes place on Wednesday, 24 October 2012 at 19:00 in the Wits Great Hall, East Campus. For ticket and pricing information visit www.witschoir.co.za.
This celebration of song has been planned almost to the day of the anniversary of the Choir's inaugural concert in 1962. The Choir has invited as many former members and conductors as possible to the concert and hopes that all present will be able to reconnect with some familiar faces as they look back on half a decade of the joy that singing has brought them. Former choir members who have not yet received their invitation to the concert are urged to contact the Choir so that they too may share in this auspicious occasion. Also invited to the event are various guest choirs who have shared an association with the Wits Choir in years gone by, to present a couple of items as part of the concert.
The Choir has been collecting memorabilia in the form of newspaper clippings, photos and old programmes, which will be included in a special presentation on the evening. The concert forms part of the larger celebrations as Wits University celebrates 90 years of academic excellence and will be hosted by Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Yunus Ballim.
The Wits Choir today is unlike any choir you have ever seen: vibrant, young and colourful! Since 1995 the Choir has been under the direction of accomplished conductor and trainer, Dalene Hoogenhout, and membership of the Wits Choir is open to all, regardless of age, gender and race, field of study or occupation.
The Choir sings at all Wits graduations and ceremonies, has performed on television numerous times, collaborated with several nationally and internationally acclaimed artists, and has recorded four CDs. The Wits Choir has had the honour of performing for Presidents Mandela, Mbeki and Zuma. The Choir also regularly holds workshops and festivals as part of their outreach programme for the advancement of choral music and conducting, and presents charity concerts at various institutions such as Nkosi's Haven, the National Burn Association of SA, Marang House and many others.
The Wits Choir tours locally every year, with an international tour every three years. The Choir toured the east coast of the USA and to St John's in Newfoundland, Canada in June/July 2011, where they received standing ovations at all 14 performances of their 'Charting Africa' programme which consisted of music in more than 12 African languages from our continent. It was a huge honour for the Choir to represent the University and South Africa overseas.
The Wits Choir's motto is "Excellence through diversity" and this is the inspiration for the choices they make in their singing and organisation of the group. Local and international audiences will delight at a varied repertoire in many languages, and enjoy a visual treat with the Choir's brightly-coloured outfits and energetic dance moves. What really sets the Wits Choir apart, however, is their connection to the music, to the audience and to each other. Ask any Choir member and they will tell you that the Wits Choir is like an extended family!