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Membership of the choir not only provides children with expert music tuition (Mr Lionel van Zyl, senior voice lecturer at the NMMU has been the ECCC’s conductor since 1986), but also teaches them to value team work, cooperation, discipline and other life skills (including basic social and table etiquette) that will stand them in good stead in all future endeavours.
The choir regularly receives invitations to perform in and around the Eastern Cape and tours extensively, both nationally and internationally. They also regularly host national and international choirs and music groups. Read more about these on our tours pages.
As part of Lionel van Zyl's 25th anniversary as director of the ECCC, the choir undertook a weekend tour to the Karoo towns of Cradock and Graaff-Reinet in July 2011, making full use of the beautiful accoustics in the well-known Cradock North Dutch Reformed Church and the historic 'Moederkerk' in Graaff-Reinet. The choir also hosted, and performed with, the Zürich Youth Symphony Orchestra and treated their audience to a Prestige Concert that, in addition to the ECCC and ECjCC, also showcased musicians who started their careers as one of Lionel's choristers.
The 2012 choir year, the choir's 30th anniversary, also had an impressive line-up of events, including a visit from the Vox Aurea Children's Choir from Jyvaskyla, Finland, under the leadership of talented conductor Sanna Salminen, who impressed when she visited with the Ruamjai Youth Choir in 2008. The ECCC will also host theLos Angeles Children's Chorus in July, and the 11th international concert tour, to Germany, Austria and Switzerland, took place in September 2012. Immediately after our return, we hosted the Prague Philharmonic Children's Choir, together with Woodridge Schools' Music Department.
2014 was a busy year, starting off with the Hamburg Girls' Choir's visit in March. During August the Saarland Youth Choir (Germany) will be visiting Port Elizabeth, alongside the newly established Stellenbosch University Chamber Choir. We are planning a four choir extravaganza, including the ECCC and the NMMU Choir.
For financial reasons the 12th international concert tour, that was due to take place during September/October 2014, had to be postponed. The choir toured Germany and the Czech Republic in October 2015. See more about our tours under the"TOURS" tab at the top of the page.
The day-to-day administration is managed by a committee consisting of volunteers. Choristers pay an annual membership fee that covers, amongst other things, the annual workshop, honorariums for the conductor, accompanists and repetitor, performance uniforms, stationery and hosting of visiting choirs. The financial statements are audited annually.
The choir is proud of its development project, entering its thirteenth year in 2017. The program affords musically talented children from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds membership of the choir. Sponsorship includes choir fees, clothing, transport costs and assistance in obtaining personal documentation. The program has, to date, supported more than 60 children. A number of these children have been in the choir for three years and longer and have proven to be reliable and important choir members. They have benefited greatly, both on a musical and on a personal level, from their choir membership. The development sponsorship does not include allowance for overseas tours, but thanks to vigorous fundraising on the committee’s part and generous sponsors on the other hand, a total of 30 disadvantaged children were afforded the opportunity to participate in the international tours conducted in 2006, 2008, and 2010, 2012 & 2015. This project is currently funded from within the choir. A sponsor would allow for the programme to be expanded to include more children from disadvantaged communities.
During the choir’s 2008 tour, the value of having a dedicated feeder choir for the ECCC was again highlighted and the decision made to start a young Children’s Choir, where children who are too young for the ECCC (7-10 years of age) are taught proper voice habits and choir and concert etiquette in a friendly environment, preparing them for the more exacting demands of the ECCC. Led by well-known local musician and music teacher Hanlie Young, and supported by Lionel van Zyl as musical director, the Eastern Cape junior Children's Choir (ECjCC), quickly proved, through a number of public performances, that even very young children can perform at a very high standard. Far from merely acting as a feeder choir, the ECjCC is already an outstanding choir in its own right. At the end of 2010 it was decided that the ECjCC will, in future, be administered independently from the ECCC. However, the two choirs will continue to cooperate closely and the ECjCC is to remain an important feeder source for the ECCC. Read more about them at www.ecjcchoir.com.