The Symphony Choir
The Symphony Choir of Cape Town (SCCT) was born in 1972 when Benito Moni asked Dr Barry Smith (then organist of St Georges Cathedral) to hold auditions for a choir which would perform choral works regularly with the Cape Town Symphony Orchestra. The Choir’s debut early in 1973 was a performance of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony conducted by Louis Frémaux. Under Dr Barry Smith 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.
More recent concerts have been:
- A real “stand-out” performance was Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis in 2019. The concert took place in the Sarah Baartman Hall, UCT, with the UCT Orchestra under the baton of Alexander Fokkens.
- In November 2018, 18 members of the SCCT travelled to New York to participate in a performance of Handel’s Messiah in Carnegie Hall, together with a number of other choirs from various countries. This was at the invitation of DCINY (Distinguished Concerts International, New York) and was conducted by Jonathan Griffith.
- In August 2018, we were invited to participate in a performance of Mahler’s Symphony No 2 (The Resurrection) under the baton of Bernard Gueller. This concert took place to celebrate the re-opening of the Cape Town City Hall after it had been closed for extensive renovations.
- Mendelssohn’s “Elijah” with the Comart Choir in 2008 and again with the Philharmonia Choir in 2017;
- Verdi’s Requiem with the Philharmonia Choir in 2010 under the baton of Victor Yampolsky and again in 2015 with the City of Tygerberg and Vox Cape Town Choirs under the baton of Alexander Fokkens;
- Ein Deutsches Requiem is a favourite work of the Choir which has been performed on numerous occasions, the most recent being in October 2013 with the City of Tygerberg Choir;
In 1993, after municipal funding was withdrawn, the Choir became an independent body, with its own constitution and responsible for its own funding and performance agenda. According to the choir’s constitution, “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”.
In accordance with this objective, the Choir has always sought to promote young up and coming soloists and provide them with a platform to perform large choral works. The Choir also supports choirs and groups from less privileged communities and has collaborated with and performed with the Comart Choir of Elsies River and also The Gentlemens’ Ensemble of Gugulethu.
Since becoming an independent body, the choir has had a number of notable and extremely talented choral directors and trainers including Garmon Ashby, Mark Mitchell and Alexander Fokkens. Under their expert guidance the choir has gained the reputation as one of the leading choirs in Cape Town. The Choir’s current choral director is Levi Alexander.
Over the years the Choir has performed in many prestigious collaborative events. 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 newly established Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra. Also 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.