New Chamber Choir for Stellenbosch University
The Music Department of Stellenbosch University (SU) has founded a new choir, the Stellenbosch University Chamber Choir, which will make a huge contribution to the choir culture of the region.
„We are simply looking for the 40 best voices on the Stellenbosch campus,“ says Martin Berger. After eleven years as Director of Music at the famous St. Kilan’s Cathedral in Würzburg and professor in choral conducting, Berger left Germany to accept his appointment at SU. Since April, he has been busy restructuring the Music Department’s conducting programme and choirs. He will be the conductor and artistic director of the choir.
The SU Chamber Choir will complement existing structures at the Music Department and the University. It is aimed at experienced choral singers and wants to inspire the region with its performances by being locally relevant, yet internationally respected. The choir will make use of the amazing musical diversity which can be found at SU. The members will share their skills with those who have not had access to formal choral education through workshops, master classes and recordings.
Martin Berger is known as one of the most versatile conductors in Germany and is sought after as guest conductor, lecturer, master class leader and adjudicator. During his eleven years as Director of Music at the Würzburg Cathedral he transformed the Würzburger Dommusik to one of the foremost institutions for church music in Germany.
As professor of Choral Conducting and Choral Education at the Robert-Schumann-Hochschule in Düsseldorf since 2008, he uniquely combined theory and practice to the highest level, and developed and taught new mediation techniques of choral music.
Berger studied in Düsseldorf and Saarbrücken, and completed postgraduate studies in Church Music, Music Education, Musicology, German Literature and Conducting. Master classes and artistic collaborations introduced him to major Scandinavian choir directors such as Eric Ericson, Anders Eby and Gary Graden, who significantly influenced his approach to choral music. He has given concerts in nearly all European countries, Australia, South Africa and the United States. In 2012, he had the rare honour of being invited to perform a private concert for Pope Benedict XVI with a production of the contemporary church opera Augustinus.
Says Berger: „I’m a foreigner in this country but not a new one. I’ve been visiting, working and living in this country since 1996. I immediately fell in love with the wonderful diverse musicality here – and the incredible potential. I feel privileged to share my expertise with a music department that offers me the opportunity to expand skills and experience within a multilingual, dynamic and innovative environment – and to join a university that recognizes that international excellence and local relevance is the key to success in all fields.“
The Chair of the Music Department, Prof Winfried Lüdemann concludes: „In Martin Berger, the Music Department has obtained the services of a highly experienced conductor and expert on all aspects of choral music. His appointment will introduce a new era in the long tradition of choral culture for which Stellenbosch is so well known. It will add an entirely different dimension to this culture with the establishment of a new academic chamber choir. This initiative holds enormous potential for the development of choral music as an academic discipline at SU.“
The choir, which will consist of only students, is currently auditioning for new members. Interested students should SMS their name, voice group and previous choir experience to 072 638 0046 and make an appointment for audition