In its present form the Symphony Choir [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.
Apart from our annual celebratory appearance with the Rotary Last Night of the Proms, the Choir has perfoemd at a variety of community concerts such as the Caltex/Cape Argus Massed Choirs Festival and Symphonic Carols concerts.
From 1996 we had a long association with Richard Cock’s Songs of Praise, performed annually in the City Hall especially with sponsorship from SABC, but which sadly fell away.
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.
The last major concerts presented by the Choir have been Mozart’s Vesperae Solennes de Dominica and Coronation Mass in June 2009, Mendelssohn’s Elijah in October 2008, Haydn’s Creation in June 2008 and Faure’s Requiem in Oct 2007. In the two October performances the Choir was joined by the Comart Choristers, a community organisation based in Elsies River and trained by Professor Virginia Davids.
Other recent performances of the choir have included, Beethoven’s Mass in C, Mozart’s Vesperae Solennes de Confessore and Coronation Mass and Haydn’s Harmoniemesse and Stabat Mater. Brahms’ Ein Deutsches Requiem has been a favourite work of the Choir and it has performed it on numerous occasions. Most recently in May 2010, the choir performed the Brahms’ Liebesliederwalze.
In May 2005 the Choir was fortunate to obtain the services of Alexander Fokkens as music director, and subsequently those of his wife Margaret Foxcroft as accompanist. 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.
The number of singers in the Choir currently stands at approximately 60.
The Constitution of the Choir provides under the heading MAIN OBJECT OF THE SYMPHONY CHOIR OF CAPE TOWN:
The SCCT is intended to comprise an amateur choral body open to and representative of the broad Cape community. As such the SCCT rejects discrimination based on race, creed, gender, sexuality, physical disability or marital status. The main objects for which the SCCT is established are:
To initiate, participate in or be associated with any activities aimed at the positive and purposeful advancement of choral music through participation in and/or organisation of public concerts at which choral music will be performed.