ComArt marks fond farewell to Prof Virginia Davids

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Professor Virginia Davids and Andre Thomas
Professor Virginia Davids and Andre Thomas

Professor Virginia Davids hands over baton as musical director of ComArt Choristers at Elsies River on Sunday, December 4.

Co-founder of Elsies River NPO ComArt, and musical director of the ComArt Choristers since 1998, Professor Virginia Davids is marking the end of an era and handing over her baton to long-standing ComArt member Andre Thomas.

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The forthcoming ComArt Festival of Carols on Sunday 4 December will be Mr Thomas’ first concert at the helm of the ComArt Choristers following Professor Davids’ recent departure. Virginia has since taken on the role as musical advisor and patron of the Choristers.

“Virginia has made a significant contribution to the local community by founding ComArt and during her tenure as musical director of the ComArt Choristers,” says John Davids, fellow co-founder and executive director of ComArt. “With her work at ComArt, she has not only helped keep choral music alive in Elsies River, but, through her belief of music being central to human life, and her commitment to addressing the inequalities of our past, she had dedicated herself to unlocking the potential of community members and creating a celebration of heritage, identity and building self-esteem.”

“Despite the extensive acclaim, she has received locally and internationally in her professional career as an opera singer, music academic and singing teacher whose students perform at the world’s best opera houses, Virginia remains approachable, down-to-earth and always has a sense of fun,” adds David Sylvester, chairperson of the ComArt board.

Under Professor Davids’ direction, both the adult choir and youth vocal ensemble, Lady Cape Town, have made a critical contribution to the preservation of choral music in Elsies River. Between them, they have performed extensively at venues such as Artscape, City Hall and the Baxter and participated in a concert for President Thabo Mbeki, Bill Gates and former US President Bill Clinton. They have produced a CD, hosted international choral groups, formed the chorus of Thomas Rajna’s South African premiere of the opera Valley Song and performed Sibisi’s Zulu Mass at St George’s Cathedral.

“The past eighteen years have been an incredible journey and I have had the chance to meet some wonderful people,” says Professor Davids. “Andre is passionate about music and committed to investing in his community and I know I am leaving the ComArt Choir in perfect hands.”

“Professor Davids has nurtured and inspired many choir members, and I am honoured to be taking over the reigns as Musical Director of the ComArt Choir. I’m thankful for having this calling as a conductor and the chance to work with this prestigious choir,” says Mr Thomas. “Professor and Mr Davids have done fantastic work and I am looking forward to continuing their legacy, maintaining the high standard and going from strength to strength.”

Mr Thomas started singing when he was a young boy in the school choir at Eurecon Primary School in Elsies River, Cape Town. He later joined the prestigious ERUB (Elsies River, Ravensmead, Uitsig, Belhar) Children’s Choir directed by Ross van Zitters, and went on to study music at the SA College of Music at UCT. He joined ComArt accompanying the children’s choir with his sister Arlene Thomas who was choir director at the time and continued to participate in many of their youth development initiatives. Mr Thomas has also studied choir conducting with the late Hennie Loock, conductor of the Tygerberg Children’s Choir and studied vocal techniques and choir conducting with Dr Brad Liebl and Professor Sidwill Hartman, his mentor and voice teacher.

ComArt is an NPO based in Elsies River providing access to creative and performance arts training and resources as vehicle to promote community growth, development and nation building. In addition to the ComArt Choristers, its initiatives over the years have encompassed choral and vocal training and performances; youth development programmes; instrumental music as well as dance and visual arts training as part of Musedi and Elsies Youth Arts Collective; cultural heritage and wellness activities, and international exchange projects.

The ComArt Choristers meet every Monday evening. For information, contact comart@telkomsa.net

ComArt’s Festival of Carols will be presented on Sunday 4 December at 4pm at the Evangelical Lutheran Church, 35th Street Elsies River. Security will be in attendance. Tickets cost R50 each and are available at the door, or through ComArt on comart@telkomsa.net

 

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