Two local composers will receive international exposure when the Cape Town Male Voice Choir (CTMVC) and Cenestra Male Choir from Ekurhuleni tour to South America to perform their winning compositions in July this year.

Xander Kritzinger and Andrew-John Bethke stood out as the winners of the Choral Composers competition with their original compositions, titled ‘In die skadus van my siel’ and ‘A prayer for Africa’ respectively. Bethke and Kritzinger won R10 000 and the prestige of an international premiere performance of their work in Buenos Aires, Argentina and Montevideo, Uruguay.

The competition was facilitated by the CTMVC and Cenestra with generous sponsorship from the National Lottery. The judging panel consisted of German choral conductor and lecturer, Professor Martin Berger from Stellenbosch University and Conductor of the Rand Afrikaans University Chorale choir, Michael Dingaan, together with the musical directors of both Cenestra and CTMVC.

CTMVC Chairperson Lewis Rabkin says, “The aim of the competition was to unearth talented South African composers and bring back a focus to male choir singing. The competition showcases the ability of South African choral composers, as we are not yet fully tapping into local potential and talent.”

“The grant from the National Lotteries Commission has made it possible for us to coordinate the Composer Competition and to send our two choirs overseas,” says Rabkin. Members of the choirs will be participating in workshops and master classes at the Melodia! South American Music Festival in which they are performing in Argentina and Uruguay.

Cape Town born composer and organist Bethke, was the Director of Music at Grahamstown Cathedral until recently. He has had other work performed overseas to critical acclaim. Speaking about his winning composition, Bethke says, “I wanted to write a piece which attempted to pull together traditional South African musical techniques and languages, rooting the piece strongly in South African traditional culture.” The composition includes techniques such as a call-and-response, parallel harmonisations and descending melodies which Bethke says are characteristic of Xhosa, Zulu, Sotho and Tswana music.

Kritzinger started his musical career singing in the Drakensburg Boys Choir and is now a music teacher and choir master for Stellenbosch High Choir and the Viva Cantare Community Choir. Speaking about his work, ‘In die skadus van my siel’ (Afrikaans for ‘In the shadows of my soul’) he says, “I wrote it at my beach house at the coast while listening to the ocean roaring. The house always brings fond memories and while being there one often tends to think about people who are no longer with us. They still dwell in the shadows of our souls, even after time. I did not expect that the composition would win a prize, but am delighted and honoured that the piece will be performed.”

On their tour to South America, the two choirs of 80 men singing in four part harmony will showcase the best of the South African choral tradition, performing an eclectic blend of sacred, classical and jazz works in a number of South African languages as well as French, Italian, Hebrew, Spanish and Latin.

The CTMVC will present a preview of their tour programme at a gala farewell concert at Hugo Lambrecht’s Auditorium in Parow, Cape Town on 24 June 2017. Proceeds from this concert will go to Non-Profit Organisation, Link2Grow which seeks to empower women in Cape Town by linking those who have needs to those with resources.

Winners of other prizes

Director of the Access Music Project in Grahamstown, Gareth Walwyn won the prize for best arrangement and Conrad Asman won a special award for being technically sound. Theriso Tsambo and Keboletse Molokwane won scholarships to the value of R5000 for their great potential in composition style.

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