‘Excellence through Diversity’

The Wits Choirs in concert with Missouri State University Chorale, USA on 26 May 2016 at 19:30.It is no secret that music has always played a significant role in building bridges between people, communities, cultures and even countries. Activists, politicians, community leaders, historians and academics have noted the importance of song and music in mobilising communities, highlighting issues, building alliances, galvanising action and forging bonds. Music knows no boundaries and its appeal defies the narrow categories of race, class, gender and age.

With this in mind, and coupled with their motto “Excellence Through Diversity”, Wits Choir and the Young Wits Choir, under the expert leadership of conductor Dalene Hoogenhout, will host the Missouri State University Chorale in a once-off performance. An express objective is to use our brand of music and joy of singing to share the wonderful treasure of our mostly home-grown repertoire with our American guest choir.

Wits Choir

The Chorale under the direction of Dr. Cameron F. LaBarr, is the flagship touring choir of Missouri State’s Department of Music. This select choir of approximately 50 voices performs regularly at conferences of the American Choral Directors Association, Missouri Music Educators Association, and the National Association for Music Education, and has toured throughout the United States and Europe. In May 2015, the MSU Chorale performed by invitation at the Piccolo Spoleto Festival in Charleston, South Carolina. Members of Chorale also perform in Grand Chorus. They will be on tour in South Africa in May 2016. The three choirs will also render some combined items representing the two countries’ repertoire.

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The Wits Choirs in concert with Missouri State University Chorale, USA is an event that will offer something to everyone’s taste and it is a collaborative effort which promises to be a joy to chorister and audience member alike.

Cameron F. LaBarr is director of choral studies at Missouri State University where he leads a comprehensive choral program including over 200 singers in five choirs. He has held university choral positions at Lee University (Cleveland, Tennessee) and the University of North Texas. He holds a Bachelor of Music from Missouri State University, where he studied with Dr. Guy B. Webb, and he earned a Master of Music and Doctor of Musical Arts from the University of North Texas, where he studied choral and orchestral conducting with Dr. Jerry McCoy and Maestro David Itkin. Dr. LaBarr has been awarded conducting fellowships at the Yale International Choral Festival, the Sarteano (Italy) Chamber Choir Workshop, and was named a Salzburg Fellow in April 2014, where he participated in the Salzburg Seminar: Conflict Transformation through Peace-Building and the Arts. Dr. LaBarr has worked as guest conductor and clinician for various institutions and international festivals across the United States, Europe, South Africa and China.

The Choral Studies programme at Missouri State University includes Chorale, Men’ Chorus, Women’s Chorus, Choral Union and Grand Chorus, as well as a graduate conducting program. Choirs from Missouri State perform regularly at conferences of the American Choral Directors Association, Missouri Educators Association and the National Association for Music Education, and have toured throughout the United States and Europe. The choral program at Missouri State University was led for 34 years (1980-2014) by emeritus faculty Dr. Guy B. Webb, during which the program experienced substantial growth and gained a highly acclaimed reputation both nationally and abroad. A variety of advanced choral repertoire is performed in concerts and tours throughout the year.


Wits Choir is now in its 54th year of existence!

It was originally called The Witwatersrand University Choir and was founded by students from two diverse student bodies. The first was The University Choral Society and they decided to use the profits from their 1961 production of Oklahoma to buy choral music and start a choir. On the other hand, at the same time, a group of students on the Students’ Engineering Council also decided to form a choir. Towards the end of that year the two groups combined and the Wits Choir was formed.

Wits Choir is unlike any choir you have ever experienced: it is vibrant, young, and colourful! Membership is open to all, resulting in a fully representative choir drawn from diverse national and international cultures.

The Wits Choir motto is ‘Excellence through diversity’ and this manifests itself in everything the Choir does, be it repertoire, membership of the choir, performances. An example of this diversity is the fact that Wits Choir must be the only choir in the world who has sung for over 20 Heads of State both in Africa and abroad, and … also at the opening of a sewage plant in Mpumalanga!

The Wits Choirs bring the music of South Africa and of our continent to audiences everywhere. It is our undertaking to show the beauty, intricacies, diversity and complexity of the music in our world.


Dalene Hoogenhout is the Trainer and Conductor of Wits Choir — the official choir of the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) in Johannesburg. This is her 21st year as conductor since being appointed to reconstitute the Choir as an independent and representative ensemble of high musical standard at the University in 1994.

Under her direction, the Choir has become one of the leading choirs in South Africa, specialising in music of the African continent and particularly South Africa. She and the Choir bring the music of this continent to many audiences and other choirs both locally and internationally on the numerous tours and outreach projects that the Choir undertakes.

She is often invited to adjudicate at choir festivals and competitions and is on the panel of adjudicators of the National Eisteddfod Academy. She presents workshops and master classes both locally and abroad and has been invited as guest conductor to conduct various choirs.

In order to gain more knowledge and keep up with world trends in the field of choral music, Dalene attends numerous courses on choral conducting, both nationally and internationally.

She lectures at Wits School of Arts/ Division of Music on a sessional basis. She presently also trains the Parktown Girls’ Choir and the Bishop Bavin College Choir.

PRODUCTION: The Wits Choirs in concert with Missouri State University Chorale, USA

DATE: 26 May 2016 at 19:30

VENUE: Wits Main Theatre


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