South Africa: Auditions for 2020 UCT Choir Now Open

The University of Cape Town (UCT) Choir is currently open for auditions for 2020 with a new two-step audition process in place. It's heralded as one of the most diverse musical groups around, with its membership made up of students, alumni and members of the communities outside the university.

Founded in 1985, the UCT Choir comprises an ensemble of a minimum of 40 members who take on a rich variety of choral music from classical to contemporary, drawing strongly on African musical heritage. With plans for increased performances in the forthcoming months and participation in the 2020 World Choir Games - subject to raising the funds for the deposit for the entry fee by the end of January - the choir is looking to achieve even greater things next year.

Marketing manager for the UCT Choir, Kenny Victor, said, "We are excited about the future of the choir in 2020. Our conductor, Leon Starker, believes we are evolving and improving, and ready to perform and compete more extensively, which is why we want to begin rehearsing as early as possible in the new year."

"That's why we have opened auditions for the choir now and we urge everyone who is interested to get their audition processes rolling by submitting their audio video audition clips to us by 6 January."

Two-stage auditions

The auditions will be undertaken in two stages: an electronically presented vocal audition and a repertoire audition. The first step involves candidates sending an audio video of themselves singing prescribed scales as well as their own choice of song - both sung a cappella - via WhatsApp or email.

The audition videos will be used to assess voice quality and range, and to place candidates in groups for the repertoire auditions with Starker, which will take place on 15 and 16 February 2020.

"The UCT Choir is one of the most diverse musical groups around, with members including students from all faculties, alumni and communities outside the university across all nationalities and groups."

"The advantage of sending an audio video audition is that singers can practise, record and submit the clip that they are happiest with," said Victor.

"It allows them to take their time and work on their auditions in private until they are satisfied. It's a good way of building confidence before the in-person audition."

Audio video clips should be accompanied by the candidate's name, preferred voice group (that is, soprano, alto, tenor or bass), details of any musical training and a short biography.

Once Starker has assessed the audio video auditions, candidates will be given sheet music and access to MP3 files so that they can prepare for the repertoire auditions in February, which will be undertaken in groups of four to eight singers.

Commitment and discipline

While the primary objective of being part of a choir is to exercise your enjoyment of singing, music and performing, it is, said Victor, important to remember that being a member of such a group requires commitment and discipline.

"We rehearse twice a week, on Mondays and Thursdays from 19:00 to 21:00. These rehearsals are essential, and being in the choir means learning to manage your time and making sure you do not let your fellow choristers down by not attending or dropping out," he said.

"And, with our goal of performing and competing in more events next year, it is as important as ever for candidates to be committed."

We are excited about the future of the choir in 2020."

He insists though that the benefits of being part of the choir well outweigh the demands it places on members.

"It is a great way of making new friends with people who share your enjoyment of singing, but who are possibly very different from you in many other ways. Members of choirs are generally extremely supportive of one another.

"It also gives you the opportunity to travel and perform in places you might otherwise not visit. Being part of a choir can also help built a person's confidence and self-discipline."

2020 World Choir Games

In addition to its ambitions to raise the bar by competing internationally and performing more widely, the UCT Choir also hopes to achieve a more formal status within the university. This, said Victor, would help it get access to more resources for things like travelling, marketing and choreography services.

"We are already seen as ambassadors for the university when we perform, and we would like to be able to extend this and grow our abilities.

"We are actively looking for sponsors who would like to get behind our exciting 2020 campaign and are exploring other ways of raising money to invest in the choir. We would also welcome partnerships with choreographers and videographers who could help us develop and promote our performances."

Among the choir's ambitions for next year is to compete in the 2020 World Choir Games, which are billed as "the Olympic Games of choral music" and take place in a different country every two years. In July 2020, Flanders in Belgium will welcome 21 000 singers belonging to 542 choirs from 69 countries to the 11th rendition of the event.

For the first time, the UCT Choir has qualified to participate in the competition, but getting there depends on raising enough money for the deposit fee for the entry by the end of January.

"We are hopeful that we will raise the deposit in time and look forward to hearing from anyone who is able to contribute," Victor said.

"Regardless, next year is going to be an exciting one for the UCT Choir, and we look forward to welcoming new members and enjoying the support of the community both within and outside the university."

If you are interested in auditioning, sponsoring or partnering the UCT Choir in any other way, email info@uctchoir.co.za or text 078 058 6727.

You can also go to www.uctchoir.co.za/auditions/ for more information.

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