In 1972 Etienne Smit, then headmaster of the D.F. Malan High School in Bellville and chairman of the Tygerberg Eisteddfod, took the initiative for the establishment of the Choir. The Choir comprises 70 to 76 members (boys and girls) between the ages of 10 and 14 years. Auditions for the Choir are held annually in May and June. Choir leaders of schools usually make nominations, and parents are also welcome to nominate. The choir members leave the choir at the end of grade 8.
The Choir has established itself as Ambassadors in Harmony. National tours are undertaken annually and since 1980 there have also been thirteen overseas tours and participation in eight international competitions. In seven of them, the Choir has walked away with the laurels, and has achieved a second place in Tolosa (Spain) in 2001 in the children's division, which consisted of six previous competition winners. In Stuttgart (1993) the Choir participated in the SA Cultural Week during the International Horticultural Show, while the Choir was the guest choir at the music festivals in Detmold (Germany) in 1998 and Basle (Switzerland) in 1998. After rigorous auditioning the Choir, along with three other prominent children's choirs, participated in SongBridge 2001 in March 2001. SongBridge 2001 formed part of a mass celebration of fifty children's choirs at the World of Children's Choirs 2001 in Vancouver.
In September 2002 the choir was invited to participate in the Lutheran Church's second annual convention of church music in Malmö, Sweden; and in December 2002 they presented Christmas concerts with the Danish Radio Girls' Choir in Copenhagen.
In July 2004 the Choir visited Debrecen, Hungary on invitation to participate in the Béla Bartók 21st International Choir Competition. They were the winners in the Children's Choir category, and shared the first prize with the Vesna Children's Choir from Moscow, Russia. Both choirs received 91,2% in the final round of the competition, thus qualifying to participate in the Grand Prix competition. The Choir also received two special prizes - one for the best interpretation of a Béla Bartók composition and the other prize for being the public's choice as the best choir of the competition. The Choir also received a diploma in the folklore category of the competition.
Recent awards that the Choir received include: Outstanding contribution as community leaders awarded by the Afrikaanse Handelsinstituut (AHI) in September 2004. In October 2004 they received an award for Outstanding Children's Choir and Outstanding Choral Conductor (Hendrik Loock) from The South African Choral Society. And in November 2004 an award for outstanding national and international contribution was bestowed by the Western Cape Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport at their Arts, Culture and Heritage Awards Ceremony.
In 2005 Hendrik and Theresa Loock received an award by the Western Cape branch of the ATKV (Afrikaans Language and Culture Association) for their involvement as so-called 'Afrikone' (African Icons) in choir singing over many years. The Choir, with Louis Loock as guest artist, received the prestigious Kanna Award at South Africa's flagship arts festival, the Klein- Karoo National Arts Festival, as the Best Classical Music Production at the festival.
In July 2006 they obtained first place in the Folklore division at the prestigious International Music Eisteddfod in Llangollen, Wales. They also obtained a 3rd place in the Senior Children's Choirs division. Both achievements were against much older choirs.
In 2007 the Choir took part in Die Burger Christmas Concert in Artscape. The Choir also celebrate its 35th Reunion in Cape Town City Hall in a concert which is widely regarded as an absolute tour de force.
A highlight in 2008 was an invitation to the Choir to perform at the State of the Nation Parliamentary Banquet at the CTICC. Pres. Mbeki, Helen Zille and many other high profile politicians attended this illustrious affair.
The Choir toured to Italy and Austria during July 2008, where they inter alia obtained 2nd Place and a Gold Medal in the Children's Choir Division at the World Choir Games in Graz, Austria.
The choir was crowned World Champions twice at the 6th World Choir Games in Shaoxing, China in July 2010. They won the Music of the Religions and Folklore open categories against much older choirs. It is the first time in the choir's 38 year history that they won two categories in the same competition.
In 2011 the choir was nominated for a Kanna Award for Best Production at the KKNK.
Since 2008, these highly talented children participated in the world's flagship choral competition, the World Choir Games in inter alia Austria, China and the USA, where they received many gold medals and were crowned Double World Champions - in the Religions of the World and Folklore categories in Shaoxing in 2010. The World Choir Games is widely regarded as the 'Olympic Games" for choirs, and only the very best choirs from all over the world are invited to participate. The fact that Tygerberg Children's Choir is a children's choir aged between 10 and 14, and that these results were obtained against much older choirs, makes the achievement even more remarkable.
Tygerberg Children's Choir was not only crowned as South Africa's best children's choir, but was the over all winner of the ATKV Animato competition in 2012.
The Choir was also privileged through the years to perform before heads of state and royalty, including Pope John Paul 2, Queen Elizabeth II, King Gustave of Sweden, President Bill Clinton and the former President of South Africa, Nelson Mandela. It also performed at the inauguration of President Thabo Mbeki and Princess Alexandra of Denmark.
The Choir wishes, through its music, to reach out, educate and encourage. It is then in this spirit that the tour of 1997 was dedicated to the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund, for which the amount of R56 000.00 was collected. The former ambassadors Joubert (Belgium), Khubeka (Denmark) and Niehaus (Netherlands) emphasised the ambassadorial role across borders which the children played. The media have described the Choir as a "Superb Export Product". Leading music critics, including Dirkie de Villiers, Paul Boekkooi, Louis Heyneman, Frikkie Strydom, Stefans Grové, Anthea Johnson, Justin Pierce, Mary-Ann van Rensburg and Ivan Meredith have praised the Choir for its musical discipline and involvement, pure voice reproduction, good intonation, uniformity of sound, sensitive phrasing, technical ability and dynamic contrasts. "The Tygerberg Children's Choir performed with the finesse of a professional musical group." Lloyd Dykk - Vancouver Sun (March 2001).
The Choir is heard from time to time on the radio. Television appearances include "Om te wen in Wenen" ("To win in Vienna"), a documentary about the Choir, "The Magic of Christmas", for PACT and inserts in the K-TV children's programme and "The Cape at Six". One of their very popular Christmas Concerts was broadcast on KykNet in December 2008.
The highly successful vocal group, The Voice of Angels, consists entirely of Tygerberg Children's Choir members and is an excellent instrument to further build out the name of the Choir. A highlight was he Voice of Angels' participation at Huisgenoot Skouspel Plus, which was broadcast on M-Net in April 2009.
The Choir has also shared the stage with fêted South African musicians and singers, including Kammersängerin Mimi Coertse, Aviva Pelham, Manuel Escorcio, De Wet van Rooyen, the Capab Orchestra in the opera "Hansel and Gretel" under the direction of Christopher Dowdeswell. Gerard Korsten directed them in "Does the noise in my Head" by Hans Roosenschoon.
South African composers have also written special works for the choir, including "Lux Eterna" from the "Youth Requiem" (Pieter-Louis van Dyk), "Driesiemandorie" (Pieter de Villiers), "Kô laat ons sing", "Magnificat" ,"Caritas" and more recently "Sky" (Hans Roosenschoon) and the "Tygerberg Mass" (Johan Cloete).
For SongBridge 2001 (Canada) Hendrik Hofmeyr composed a commissioned work, "Tu Pauperum Refugium". This is a work for equal voices and a double choir. On instruction from Erkki Pohjola the three other choirs - Newfoundland Symphony Youth Choir of Canada, Odawara Children's Choir of Japan and Moran Choir of Israel - as well as the audience had a part in this performance. The duration of the work is approximately 10 minutes, and the composer strengthened its character by making use of body movements and tongue sounds. He also preferred the other choirs to be placed in the auditorium to echo the focal point of peace throughout the auditorium in contrast with the choral- like idea of the rest of the work.
World famous conductors such as Eric Ericson (Sweden), Erkki Pohjola (Finland), Roy Wales (England), Michael Bojesen (Denmark) and Kare Hanken (Norway) have heard the Choir or have used them in master classes and have all spoken in the most glowing terms of the superb musicality of the Choir.
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