About the Choir
The Wits Choir has spread the magic of South African music and culture through tours worldwide.
The Wits Choir has been under the direction of accomplished Conductor and Trainer, Dalene Hoogenhout, since 1995. Dalene lectures part-time in the Music Department at the Wits School of the Arts, and has often been invited to adjudicate at choir festivals and competitions, present workshops and master classes, and has conducted many massed choirs as guest conductor. She compiles, presents and produces a weekly radio programme called The Choir Adventure on Radio Today, where she exposes listeners to a wide variety of choral music to foster an interest in this genre.
The Wits Choir has a large fan base and has performed by invitation at many official functions, including all important Wits University ceremonies, graduations and inaugurations. Highlights for the members have included:
- The honour of performing for former state president, Nelson Mandela, on three separate occasions. At the South African Business Awards; when he received his honorary doctorate from the University; and at the inauguration of the current Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Professor Loyiso Nongxa,
- Performing at the opening of the Maropeng Visitors’ Centre at the Cradle of Humankind, attended by many VIPs, including former president Thabo Mbeki
- The overwhelmingly positive reaction the Choir received when performing at the memorial service for the late Helen Suzman, attended by Thabo Mbeki, former Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Advocate George Bizos, Justice Edwin Cameron, Justice Dikgang Moseneke, Graça Machel, Professor Ramphele Mampela, Prince Mangasotho Buthelezi, and Helen Zille, among others. The Choir managed to touch the hearts of the thousand people who were in the Great Hall for the service,
- Collaborating both on stage and in the recording studio with several nationally- and internationally-acclaimed artists including Loyiso Bala, Skwatta Kamp, RJ Benjamin, Five Men Three Missing and Dear Reader (formerly Harris Tweed)
- Hosting numerous choirs from all over the world – The Technical University of Estonia’s Male Voice Choir, Pennsylvania State University’s Essence of Joy Choir, and the Women’s Concert Chorale from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, and Wingate University Singers, to mention but a few.
- Singing at the National Orders Awards at the Presidential Guest House in Pretoria in April 2010.
- Having the honour to perform when President Jacob Zuma opened the International Arrivals Hall at OR Tambo International Airport in April 2010.
- At the request of the Minister of Arts and Culture, Paul Mashatile, performed at the Department Arts and Culture Consultative Conference in April 2011.
The Wits Choir has spread the magic of South African music and culture through tours to Namibia (1998), Kenya (2001), Argentina (2003), the Czech Republic (2006), and the Seychelles (2009). At the Fringe of the 2008 National Arts Festival in Grahamstown, the Wits Choir presented a collection of shows entitled Outlines Harmonised, Outlines Redefined and Outlines Diversified, each designed to showcase a different dimension of the Choir’s versatility and extraordinary talent, and some of the World’s most beautiful music. In 2010 the choir undertook an Eastern Cape tour which included performances on the Fringe stage at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown. The new set of shows entitled Charting South Africa through Song and Charting Africa: the Singing Continent was warmly received.
The Wits Choir will be participating in the prestigious “Festival 500 Sharing the Voices” which is a celebrated international festival of choral music in North America’s oldest city, St John’s, Newfoundland, Canada during July 2011. They have also been invited to participate in the inaugural festival, The Serenade Festival in Washington DC when on tour to the USA and Canada in June and July 2011. Wits Choir will be performing at a number of universities and colleges during this tour. Some of these are Penn State University, Wingate University and Berklee College of Music in Boston.
The Wits Choir has recorded a number of CDs; the latest of which is entitled Outlines Redefined and features many audience favourites, including Sizongena Laph’emzini, U Kane Kameme, Wees My Genadig, and the Swahili song, Malaïka.