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History and Accolades

The Choir

The Stellenberg Girls Choir was established in 1999 under the baton of André van der Merwe.  Members are all attending the Stellenberg High School in Cape Town, which has become known as an institution where choral singing is celebrated.

Since its inception, the choir has won numerous first places in national and international choral competitions and is regarded as one of the best girls’ choirs in the world.

  • They were the overall winners of the ATKV Nasionale Applous-kompetisie for 16 times (1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2013 and 2015).
  • In 2002 they won the category for Women's Choirs at the Llangollen International Eisteddfod in Wales.
  • In 2004, they were awarded the highest percentage for any choir at the World Choir Olympics. These achievements are a testimony to the girls’ talent, dedication and enthusiasm.
  • In 2006 they won the much acclaimed Choir of the World trophy in Llangollen Wales.
  • In 2007 they are awarded third place on the world ranking list compiled by Musica Mundi.
  • In 2008 the Stellenberg Girls Choir achieved an outstanding 96.7% in the category ‘Even Voices’ at the 5th Olympic Competition for Choirs in Graz, Austria. This is the highest achievement ever recorded.
  • SMK won 2 categories (Music of the Religions and Musica Contemporanea) at the 2012 World Choir Games in Cincinnati, Ohio, USA.
  • During the World Choir Games in Riga, Latvia the SMK achieved a second place in the category “Spirit and Fait “with 94% to China who won with 94,5%. They also achieved a second place in the category “ Contemporanea” with 93,5% and a third place in the category “ Popular Choral Music” with an unbelievable 95% !

The Conductor

André van der Merwe is a conductor and composer from Cape Town, South Africa. 

He is often invited to perform as guest conductor, adjudicator and clinician nationally and internationally.  He has been invited to work with universities and companies in the USA; Sweden; England; Greece; Germany; Japan, China, Austria and Portugal.

André initially studied B.Mus at the University of Cape Town, but after an injury to his hand, he changed course and studied B.Drama (Directing) at the University of Stellenbosch.  During 1990 - 1996 André directed theatre productions for the Grahamstown International Arts Festival and for the Klein Karoo Arts Festival in Oudtshoorn.  He received national awards and prizes as actor and director.

Guest Lecturer and Conductor

Recent invitations include:

  • Clinician and jury member for the British TV production CorCymru (February – April 2013).
  • Guest conductor and lecturer for the Choral Summer School at the Ionian University, Greece (June 2013).
  • Adjudicator and Clinician at the Portuguese Summer Choral Festival, for the Escola Superior de Musica de Lisboa (June 2013).
  • Adjudicator and clinician for the Llangollen International Eisteddfod, Wales (July 2013).
  • Guest Conducter and lecturer for the Taipei International Choral Festival and the Taipei Philharmonic (August 2013).

Personal Acknowledgements

  • Publication: André’s arrangements of African music are published by Earthsongs in the USA - www.earthsongschoralmusic.com.
  • Since 2012 André has been selected as the South African representative on the World Choir Council for Interkulturwww.interkultur.com.
  • In 2012 KykNET announced André as the best presenter for the television programme Fiesta.
  • In November 2012 André received a ministerial cultural award (Western Cape Government) for his work with choirs and the youth.
  • In May 2012 André received a civic honorary award from the City of Cape Town for his work with the Stellenbosch University Choir and the South African Youth Choir.
  • In October 2012 the Stellenbosch University Choir was announced as the number one choir on the World Ranking List (for the top 1000 international choirs) of Interkultur.

The four choirs that he has conducted have won many national and international awards and prizes.  Highlights include:

The South African Youth Choir is a first for South Africa. Learners from all over South Africa and from various cultural backgrounds have been auditioned and selected to comprise this uniquely South African export product.  At a personal performance for President Zuma in 2011 the president regarded the choir as a true example of the “Rainbow nation successfully in action.”

  • In July 2008 the choir participated at the “International Choral Kathaumixw” in Canada and won 1st places in the categories for Folklore and Chamber Choirs.

Pro Cantu:

  • Choir of the World (Llangollen, Wales, 2002)

Stellenbosch University Choir

  • 1st place: Mixed Youth Choirs  (World Choir Games, Bremen, 2004)
  • 1st place: Musica Sacra (World Choir Games, Graz, 2008)
  • 1st place: Mixed Choirs & Musica Contemporanea (World Choir Games, China, 2010)
  • 1st place: Mixed Choirs & Musica Sacra  (World Choir Games, Cincinnarti, USA, 2012.
  • 1st place: Overall winners (World Choir Games, Riga 2014).
  • The University Choir is currently ranked number 1 on Interkultur’s world ranking list of the top 1000 international choirs.                                        

Stellenberg Girls Choir:

  • 1st place: Youth Choirs of Equal Voices (World Choir Games, Bremen, 2004)
  • Overall winners: “Choir of the World” (Llangollen, Wales, 2006)
  • 1st place: Youth Choirs of Equal Voices  (World Choir Games, Graz, 2008)  
  • 1st place: Musica Contemporanea & Music of the Religions (World Choir Games, Cincinnati, USA, 2012)
  • During the World Choir Games in Riga, Latvia the SMK achieved asecond place in the category “Spirit and Fait “with 94% to China who won with 94,5%. They also achieved a second place in the category “ Contemporanea” with 93,5% and a third place in the category “ Popular Choral Music” with an unbelievable 95% !

The Stellenberg Girls Choir is currently ranked number 7 on Interkultur’sworld ranking list of the top 1000 international choirs.  They also are ranked number 2 on the list for international Youth Choirs.

  • During the World Choir Games in Riga, Latvia the SMK achieved a

second place in the category “Spirit and Fait “with 94% to China who won with 94,5%. They also achieved a second place in the category “ Contemporanea” with 93,5% and a third place in the category “ Popular Choral Music” with an unbelievable 95% !

  • During the World Choir Games in Riga, Latvia the SMK achieved a

second place in the category “Spirit and Fait “with 94% to China who won with 94,5%. They also achieved a second place in the category “ Contemporanea” with 93,5% and a third place in the category “ Popular Choral Music” with an unbelievable 95% !


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