Latvia, then the world

2014-05-27 00:00

YOUNG singers from Pietermaritzburg and the Midlands will be flying the flag for the city and the country when they head to Latvia in July to compete in the eighth World Choir Games.

The Pietermaritzburg Children’s Choir, conducted by Johan Grobler, will perform 20 songs in three categories — children’s choir, sacred music and scenic folklore — at the event, known as “the Olympics for Choirs”.

They are one of 16 South African teams taking part in the event, which runs from July 9 to July 19, and will see some 420 choirs descending on the Latvian capital, Riga.

Grobler said the choir will sing acapella in the sacred-music section and will deliver a lively African programme for the scenic folklore section. “Taking part in the World Choir Games challenges the choir,” he said. “They have to learn a more challenging repertoire. This competition is really opening up their horizons.”

While the Pietermaritzburg Children’s Choir has been in existence for 25 years, it’s the first time that it will be competing in the World Choir Games.

“The children will be exposed to other cultures and will get to take part in a world event,” Grobler, who works in the Epworth Music Department, told The Witness.

The choir usually practices once a week, on Wednesday evenings, at The Wykeham Collegiate (TWC), but they will be rehearsing every weekend at Epworth until the end of term to prepare for the World Choir Games.

“I’m very proud of the children ... proud and amazed at what we have done in the past eight months,” Grobler said, adding that he hopes this year’s World Choir Games won’t be the choir’s last.

“As a conductor, I feel there is no point in doing something just once. We have to look to the future. The choir needs to move on from Latvia and think about going to Sochi in Russia in two year’s time,” he added.

The choir currently draws its members from local schools, including Epworth, the TWC, Laddsworth, St John’s, Gert Maritz, Pelham and schools in Howick, but Grobler would love to see more schools, especially those from Edendale and Imbali, getting involved.

The challenge, he says, is helping those living in poorer communities with transport costs, choir fees and touring costs. “Right now, the choir is too small to fund these things ourselves, but we would like to expand into poorer areas and would welcome the support of the local community to do this,” Grobler said.

“The Pietermaritzburg Children’s Choir is a community choir and we hope that we can make Pietermaritzburg and KwaZulu-Natal proud enough so that they support it.”

• The choir will be performing in a fund­raising concert, hosted by the KZN Midlands Youth Choir, at the N.G. Kerk on the corner of Dryden Road and Field Street in Hayfields at 7 pm on Friday. Tickets are R50 at the door.

• Children in grades four to eight who are interested in joining the choir can audition to do so. To find out more, phone Bernadine Elmer-English at 072 463 8317 (from 3 pm to 8 pm) or log onto

Companies and individuals interested in assisting the choir with financial support can also contact Elmer-English.


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