The celebrated Stellenbosch University Choir hits the road
“They sing with such precision. They are the Mercedes Benz of choirs." – singer and The Voice contestant Sabelo Mthembu
“At the first note my jaw dropped. What these guys (especially the conductor) did was absolutely amazing. The average person has no idea how hard it is to get a large group to sound so great, and a capella on top of that." – singer and musician Jay Nova
“My favourite part of this choir is the incredible diversity. Everyone is unique and like they have a story to tell." – Noah Cox
These are some of the comments on YouTube for the Stellenbosch University Choir's rendition of FUN's “Some Nights" which has more than 1,8 million views.
For the SU Choir, which has been number one on the Interkultur Ranking List of the top 1 000 international choirs since 2012, this kind of success on YouTube is nothing new. Their rendition of John Legend's “All of Me" has been viewed more than 3 million times, and Mr Legend himself took to Twitter to voice his enthusiasm for their interpretation. The choir's performance of Christopher Tin's “Baba Yetu" has clocked up almost 8 million views.
And now, after two frustrating pandemic years, they are finally able to take their intoxicating music and joy on tour again. The choir, which has been under the baton of André van der Merwe since 2003, is headed for Gauteng and Mpumalanga in September, but before these concerts, they will take the stage in Nigeria for the first time where they will perform at the funeral of Princess Margaret Obaigbena on invitation of her son Duke Nduka Obaigbena.
Conductor André van der Merwe says he is still stunned about this opportunity: “It is the first time in my 20 years with the choir that the whole choir is invited to perform abroad, all expenses paid."
The invitation came after Obaigbena did a Google search for the best choir in Africa.
In Asaba, where the funeral is held from 18 to 21 August, they will perform arrangements of spirituals like the isiXhosa Easter hymn “Indodana" and evergreen South African hits like “Pata Pata" and “Weeping".
These works will also be included in the repertoire the SU Choir will perform on their local tour: in the Sudwala Caves (Mbombela, 6 September), the ERT: Etienne Rousseau Theatre (Sasolburg, 8 September), WITS Linder Auditorium (Johannesburg, 9 September) and the Soweto Theatre (10 September).
New arrangements of iconic songs by Lady Gaga (“Always Remember Us") and U2 (“I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For") and beloved spirituals like “He's Got the Whole World in His Hands", “Poor Wayfaring Stranger" and “Elijah!" will also be on the programme.
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