Bloemfontein - South Africa
The amateur Bloemfontein Children’s Choir was founded by Dr Huibrie Verster in 1987. The choir has a national and international reputation and has broadcast on radio and television locally and abroad on various occasions. It has also worked with and performed under the baton of international conductors.
In 1991, they won the Prix du Public in Montreux, Switzerland at the 27th International Choral Competition. In 1996 the choir appeared with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA in Music and the Spoken Word, which was televised worldwide. During this event the Bloemfontein Conductor conducted the combined choirs. While performing the audience of 6000 gave the choir a standing ovation. In 1996 the choir obtained 2nd prize in the International Choral Kathaumixw Festival in Powell River, Canada. In 1997, the choir participated in the International Children’s Choir Festival for Friendship in Sweden, along with choirs from war-torn countries such as Ireland, Israel and Russia. In 1998 in the 46th ‘Europees Muziekfestival voor de Jeugd’ at Neerpelt, Belgium, the choir took first place in their category with a cum laude (90%) award. Further in 1998 at the Bela Bartok competition in Debrecen, Hungary, they came third in their category, but were awarded the overall prize (adult and children’s choirs) for the best interpretation of a composition written after 1945. In Vienna they won first prize in the children’s choir section in the 1998 at the 27th International Youth and Music Festival. In Toloza, Spain in 2000 the choir came third in their category. In 2002 in the USA, they were the winner at the Children’s Universal Choir Festival in Fort Worth, Texas. In the same year they performed a second time with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. The Bloemfontein Children’s Choir director again conducted the joint choirs and Gerald Ottley of the Tabernacle Choir remarked “….few in the entire world are so favoured.” In 2003, the choir represented Africa at America Cantat IV of the International Federation of Choral Music (IFCM) in Mexico City. In 2004, the choir toured to Estonia and Russia and held workshops and concerts with the Nidaros Cathedral Boys’ Choir in Norway, the Adolf Fredrik Girls’ Choir in Sweden, the Tapiola Children’s Choir of Finland and acknowledged as the most famous children’s choir in the Western world at that time as well as the Revalia Boys’ Choir in Estonia. They then also performed with the famous Male Choir of St Petersburg.
In 2006 the choir visited Belgium for a series of Christmas concerts and TV performances. During 2007 and in August 2008, the choir visited Japan and was invited to take part in the 2008 Songbridge event in Wakayama, Japan. During 2009 the Adolf Fredrik Music School in Sweden invited the choir to celebrate their 70th birthday ‘Let the Future sing’. In 2010 the choir accompanied the Superstar André Rieu on his South Africa tour and joined him in Maastricht. At the end of 2013, the choir had a tour to Slovenia, Austria, Germany and Belgium. A highlight of the tour was a performance in the Dome Church in Salzburg where the audience of 6 000 people gave a standing ovation to the choir. In South Africa, the choir in 2011 performed at the Reconciliation Ceremony hosted by the Human Rights Commission and the graduation ceremony of Oprah Winfrey at the University of the Free State. Most recently, the choir was invited to perform at the National Convention of the ruling party, the African National Congress (ANC), in December 2012, a token that this choir is appreciated by all people of the country as the first multi-racial choir in South Africa since its inception in 1987. The choir have also been honored to perform before three of South Africa’s State Presidents, namely De Klerk, Mandela and Mbeki.
Conductor Dr Huibrie Verster
Huibrie obtained her PhD in Music at the University of the Free State, South Africa. She is an active member of the choral scene in South Africa – as choir leader, clinician, adjudicator and former member and chair of the South African Choral Society. As teacher and lecturer she has directed and conducted high school, college and University and youth choirs. She has also been involved with various performances, such as the Brahms Requiem by PACOFS. In 2002 she was responsible for the rehearsals of a choir that performed works by John Rutter and which was conducted by Rutter himself during his visit to Bloemfontein, South Africa. Huibrie has acted as an adjudicator at choir competitions, eisteddfods and festivals in just about all the provinces of South Africa and Namibia. She also acts as guest lecturer / conductor at various workshops and choir events, as was the case at the National Youth Choir course held at the Drakensburg Boys’ Choir School in April 2002. Huibrie attended the World Symposium on Children’s Choirs in Vancouver in 2002 where she acted as clinician. In 2004 she delivered a master class lecture on Indigenous Music of South Africa at the International Festival America Cantat IV held in Mexico City. To remain abreast of the latest choir trends she has attended most of the World Symposia of the International Federation for Choral Music (IFCM): Vienna, Austria (1987); Stockholm (Sweden) and Helsinki, Finland (1993); Vancouver , Canada (1993); Sidney, Australia (1996); Rotterdam, Netherlands (1999); Copenhagen, Denmark (2008). In February 2003 she attended the National Symposium of the American Choral Director’s Association held in New York City, USA. In closing, the dedication of Huibrie towards the development of children and her view of “Music for every child, every child for music” came to fulfilment in 2014 when she was awarded the Chancellor’s Medal by the University of the Free State for her life-long contributions to the development of children and choral music on a national and international level.