HISTORY OF THE SYMPHONY CHOIR OF CAPE TOWN
In 1973, the Cape Town Symphony Orchestra’s performance of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony heralded the debut of the Symphony Choir of Cape Town. Dr Barry Smith, organist at St George’s Cathedral, led the choir, which went from strength to strength, performing five major choral works each year alongside the CTSO and under the baton of distinguished international guest conductors.
Twenty years later, the choir established its independence from the Symphony Orchestra and since then it has performed with a number of orchestras, including the London Philharmonic, which visited Cape Town in 1996.
1997 saw a monumental performance of Verdi’s Requiem, when the Symphony Choir of Cape Town (SCCT) sang with the Philharmonia Choir of Cape Town under the baton of Sir David Willocks. This concert would be reprised in 2010, with Victor Yampolksy conducting.
In 2015 we would again perform the Verdi Requiem but this time with the City of Tygerberg and Vox Humana choirs, led by Alexander Fokkens, the SCCT’s music director since May 2005.
“Ein Deutsches Requiem” by Brahms is another of the SCCT’s favourite works, as is Mendelsson’s “Elijah”, most recently performed with the Philharmonia Choir in 2017. For a comprehensive listing of the choir’s repertoire, follow this link
Under the guidance and single-minded quest for musical quality of Alexander Fokkens, the SCCT has consolidated its reputation as one of the leading choirs in Cape Town. Alexander’s professional involvement with the University of Cape Town Symphony Orchestra and Wind Band has led to many performances with the young musicians forming these orchestras.
We also regularly collaborate with the formidable Gentlemen’s Ensemble, a 12-voice choir based in Gugulethu and we perform every year with Richard Cock at the “Last Night of the Proms” concert, Wynberg Rotary’s major fundraiser.
Other annual events are our Festive Concert under the stars, on the lawns of Groot Constantia Wine Estate, which ushers in the Christmas period and is followed by a performance of Handel’s “Messiah” just before Christmas.
In August 2018, we were invited to participate in the concert to celebrate the re-opening of the Cape Town City Hall, which had been closed for extensive renovations. This comprised a performance of Mahler’s Symphony No 2, conducted by Bernard Gueller.
And in November 2018, we were invited to participate in a massed choir performance of Handel’s “Messiah” at Carnegie Hall in New York.
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.