In its present form the Symphony Choir of Cape Town [SCCT] has existed since 1993, when it was established as an independent body. Before that, it was attached to the Cape Town Symphony Orchestra and performed choral works when required.
This began when Benito Moni asked Dr Barry Smith in 1972 to hold auditions for a choir which could perform regularly with the CTSO. The Choir’s debut early in 1973 was a performance of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony conducted by Louis Frémaux. Under Barry Smith, who was organist at St Georges Cathedral, the Choir went from strength to strength as an adjunct to the orchestra performing five major choral works every year under the baton of distinguished international guest conductors, including Reinhold Schwartz, Walter Susskind, Enrique Garcia Asensio and Erich Bergel.
In 1996, the Choir performed with the London Philharmonic Orchestra which was visiting Cape Town, and in 1997 it participated in the opening gala concert of the new Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra. In 1997 it combined forces with the Philharmonia Choir of Cape Town and the Bach Choir of London in a monumental performance of Verdi’s Requiem under Sir David Willcocks.
More recent collaborative concerts have been Mendelssohn’s “Elijah” with the Comart Choir, Verdi’s Requiem with the Philharmonia Choir in 2010, under the baton of Victor Yampolksy and another performance of Verdi’s Requiem in 2015 with the City of Tygerberg and Vox Humana choirs, under the baton of Alexander Fokkens. Ein Deutsches Requiem has been a favourite work of the Choir and it has performed it on numerous occasions, the most recent being a very successful collaboration with the City of Tygerberg Choir in October 2013 and we once again performed “Elijah” alongside the Philharmonia Choir in 2017.
We continue to be part of the popular annual “Wynberg Rotary Last Night of the Proms” with Richard Cock. Other annual events are our Festive Concert which ushers in the Christmas period and takes place under the stars on the lawns of Groot Constantia Wine Estate and a performance of Handel’s Messiah just before Christmas.
In August 2018, we were invited to participate in a performance of Mahler’s Symphony No 2 under the baton of Bernard Gueller, a concert which took place to celebrate the re-opening of the Cape Town City Hall after it had been closed for extensive renovations.
For a comprehensive listing of the choir’s repertoire, follow the “concerts – past concerts” link
The Choir has always sought to support choirs from less privileged communities, which on occasion sing with us, and to promote young up and coming soloists and provide them with a platform to perform in large choral works. We have an ongoing collaboration with The Gentlemens Ensemble from Gugulethu and always enjoy performing alongside this talented group.
In May 2005 the Choir was fortunate to obtain the services of Alexander Fokkens as music director. Under his guidance and single-minded striving for musical quality, the Choir has consolidated and regained its reputation as one of the leading choirs in Cape Town. Alexander’s biography is available on this website and on his own website www.alexanderfokkens.com. Alexander’s involvement with the University of Cape Town Symphony Orchestra and Wind Band has made it possible for the choir to perform with these orchestras on many occasions and we are extremely privileged to be able to work with such talented young musicians. The number of singers in the Choir currently stands at just under 70 which is more than double the number that it stood at when Alexander took over.