The Symphony Choir of Johannesburg has its roots in the original SABC Choir, founded in 1947 by Dr. Edgar Cree. It had been dormant for a number of years when, in 1980, the SABC asked Richard Cock to start it again and the choir thrived under his leadership and the SABC umbrella for years.
Later, when the SABC disbanded the National Symphony Orchestra and with it the SABC Choir, Richard Cock and the members of the choir decided to ‘go it alone’ – and the fact that the choir under the leadership of Richard Cock celebrates its 44th birthday this year, shows that the secession from the SABC, which at the time might have looked like the end, was in fact a glorious new beginning.
With Richard Cock – who is without doubt the best known and best loved musical entrepreneur in SA – on the podium, the choir has gone from strength to strength. The choir normally sings three major choral works each year. The repertoire is wide and varied – large scale classical works like the J S Bach passions, Handel’s Messiah, Requiems by Mozart, Verdi, Fauré, works by Rachmaninoff, Walton, Orff, – 30+ years down the line the list is endless – but also concerts in a lighter vein like Last Night of the Proms, Songs of Praise and Gilbert & Sullivan. The Choir has premiered many choral works in Johannesburg, and a must for many Jo’burgers are the family Christmas Concerts. The SCJ has sung with the Three Tenors and Luciano Pavarotti and has been conducted by a number of high profile overseas conductors – Sir David Willcocks, Simon Preston and composer/conductor John Rutter to name but a few. Click here to view previous performances.
To join the SCJ singers have to pass an audition. The choir maintains a very high standard and is considered to be one of the best – if not the best – choir of its kind in the country. The choir members get no remuneration but pay a yearly membership fee, and what is very clear from experiencing the choir in concert – they’re there because they love singing and wish to bring their love of music to the audience.
The choir is always on the look-out for new blood (particularly tenors and basses) to keep its strength up to about 100 voices. The scope of the repertoire means that choir members should have a reasonable ability to read music in staff notation. Anyone interested in joining should contact the choir administrator, Debbie Kruger, at [email protected] or on 0828539709 to arrange an audition.