Stellenbosch University Choir
Stellenbosch University Choir
The Stellenbosch University Choir is the oldest and most celebrated choir in South Africa.

Choirmaster Andre van der Merwe is a accomplished conductor and composer who has been with the choir since 2003. He is regularly invited to act as adjudicator and guest conductor nationally and internationally.

Achievements of the choir under his baton include competing internationally in the world Choir Games and winning each category that they have entered. The list includes the following:

- 1st place at the World Choir Games in Bremen in 2004

- 1st place at the World Choir Games in Austria in 2008

- 1st place at the World Choir Games in China in 2010

- 1st place at the World Choir Games in Cincinnati in 2012

- 1st place at the World Choir Games in Riga, Latvia in 2014

- At the World Choir Games in Riga Latvia 2014, the choir won all three their categories with the highest mark (a whopping 99%) in the history of the competition!

- Currently the choir is ranked number 1 on the Interkultur World Ranking List of the top 1000 international choirs.

To defend their title in 2016, the choir traveled to Sotchi in Russia where the best choirs in the world competed in the World Olympic Choir Games. This was a daunting and expensive project, and much planning needed to be done for the trip.

Proud Partners stepped in to lend a helping hand to 4 students by sponsoring half their travelling costs. In return they will visit 3 disadvantaged schools in Cape Town to teach their choirs a song of their choice. We also assisted in getting their visas cleared sooner and smoother by liaising with the Russian Consul General Roman Ambarov on the matter. Out of respect for the choir, Mr Ambarov, in his personal capacity, also waived the visa fees for 25 of the choir members who, because of their financial dificulties, needed it the most. In return 9 members of the choir bravely performed both the daunting Russian as well as the South African anthems at the Russian National Day Celebrations in Cape Town, to the delight of the audience.

We are proud to announce that the choir again won all 3 of their categories in the 2016 Choir Olympics. They were crowned champions in the following categories:
* Musica Sacra - Category Winner 
* Spirituals - Category Winner 
* Mixed Choirs - Category Winner 
They were also declared the overall winners of the games in Sotchi and was rewarded with a recording contract. 

Here are some of the letters of thanks we received from the students:

"I really want to be able to say that I was in Stellenbosch University Choir when we participated in the World Choir Games in 2016, but university fees alone is a lot of money that my parents have to spend. I received a sponsorship for half the tour money and we were able to pay for the other half by having functions etc. I am currently working as a waiter to be able to have pocket money whilst in Sochi.
I first saw the Choir perform when I was in grade 4, ten years of age. At that age, I already knew that I wanted to be part of something great, namely the Stellenbosch University Choir. I was completely blown away by not only the good quality of the Choir, but also how they live themselves into the music and interpret it in their own unique way. Singing in the choir, being part of an extra ordinary family is a dream come true.
Thank you once again for sponsoring my visa."

"I'm a member of the Stellenbosch University Choir. I am 20 years of age and come from a small town in KwaZulu Natal called Newcastle. I am a medical student in my second year at the university and this is my first year singing for the choir. I am immensely grateful and humbled to be chosen for this potential sponsorship as I am in dire need of assistance."
"I am the last of four children who were all raised by a single mother who is currently 60 years of age. Although in a different time she was financially capable of funding my aspirations, an unforeseen ordeal that struck our family last year, left her financially unable to cope with paying for my fees, residence, living costs and investing in my talents/passion as I do not have a bursary or financial aid. In light of the fact that I am not her only responsibility, I have had to accept that without external assistance, some of my dreams will have to be put on hold. Being a musician who is passionate about his craft, the choir has given me a platform not only to come together with people much like myself, who are passionate about this art form, but it has also become a home where I have made brothers and sisters from all walks of life. It has taught me how hard work, dedication and passion combined form an uncontainable force that can change a lot of lives, with the tour to Russia being an opportunity to further share that with the rest of the world. Going to Russia is a once in a lifetime opportunity for the entire choir to make yet another mark in the hearts of many all around the world and to present the best of what South Africa (if not Africa) has to offer.  Once again, I cannot express in words how humbled and grateful I am to receive the fruits of your kindness and generosity. In my native language we say 'Kwande la othathe khone ' which translates to 'May the Lord multiply from where you have given and bless you abundantly for your generosity'. Thank you so very much."

"I am an enthusiastic gentleman carrying the pride of a small town named Darling along the West Coast of South Africa. As much as this small town that I call home has natural inherent beauty, its community is faced with many trials. In my community, the prevalence of drug abuse, teenage pregnancy, rape, murder, theft have been increasing. However, I have been blessed with truly phenomenal parents who tried to give their children the very best - not with materialistic items, but with motivation, care, responsibility, respect, values, morals and most importantly dignity to strive towards being an unique human being who can firmly plant their feet as roots in the example that was set for them in order to portray a beaker of hope for others. These principles invested by my parents contributed to a well-defined character and a hunger to chase towards success in my life. I was set on carrying my beaker of hope, no matter how heavy or light at the time, with my main focus on being the difference I want to see in the community. Receiving the visa sponsorship allows me to attend the 9th World Choir Games which will be hosted in Sochi in Russia and would literally mean in every sense, the world to me. The personal address from the conductor, André Van Der Merwe, has been an overwhelming blessing as I would never believe that someone of his caliber would believe so much in my gift to such an extent of offering me a place in the choir. He is not only a musical coach but also an insightful source of life lessons. The Stellenbosch University Choir has changed my life in so many ways. This choir is so diverse with regards to ethnicity and personalities that every practice does not feel like a practice but more like a social gathering of souls that love to rejoice in the beauty of music. It goes way beyond my comprehension that 120 students devote their time in something such as choral singing. The Stellenbosch University Choir is much more than just a choir. It is the sharing of feelings and daily experiences with others for we are a family. As much as touring to Russia will be a lifelong dream made possible, it will warm my heart to know that not only are my passion for music is being appreciated but that I have the opportunity to go and share my gift with the rest of the world, enriching lives wherever I can."

"I'm a 5th year student studying BAccounting LLB and a member of the Stellenbosch University Choir for the past 5 years. I was presented with an opportunity to tour to your country this year as a singer of the University Choir and was very excited about it. But unfortunately the financial circumstances at home has made this hard.
I am already paying my studies with student loans and also get a small financial subsidy from the company that I am signed with for after my studies. I have also taken it upon myself to raise some funds for the trip, but with being a full time student in my final year and a member of my residence’s House Committee and a member of this choir, finding time to sleep is hard, let alone trying to raise money for the tour, especially such a large amount. T
he choir became my family away from my family - especially in a new environment that is a stark contrast to what I had at home. Quite frankly, I need the choir and the power of its music to keep me sane. Coming to the rehearsals after a tough day, and leaving after a gruelling session makes my week bearable.
I sincerely wish to thank you for the sponsoring of my visa. Going on this trip has been something I have longed for and anyone who can help make it a reality deserves a proper and sincere thank you.

Proud Partners is proud to back our champions and wish them all the best with defending their title at the next Choir Olympics in Pretoria in 2017

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Choirmaster Andre van der Merwe
Amateur video of the choir singing the Russian anthem at their National Day Celebrations in Cape Town
The choir showing good sportmanship by cheering for the Russians at the awards ceremony
The choir winning another of their 3 categories
The choir winning the first of their 3 categories with a whopping 98%
​Isabel celebrating with choir master Andre in Sotchi