Libertas choir celebrates 30 years of musical achievement

By Nell Hofmeyr (photography by Danette De Klerk)

The Libertas Choir celebrated its 30th birthday with a special performance and the launch of a new CD: Libertas Choir: We are the voice, at Leopard’s Leap Family Vineyards in Franschoek on 11 May.

The festive occasion saw choir members, honoured guests and longtime supporters gather to reflect on the choir’s rich and colourful history, over some fine wine and top quality food.

Johan and Louwina de Villiers (husband and wife). Johan is the founder and conductor of the choir and Louwina is manager of the choir.

Founded in 1989 by Johan de Villiers the Libertas Choir broke boundaries as South Africa’s first adult choir with a multi-racial membership base.

Its credo, “Freedom in Harmony”, embodies the mission that has guided its work since the start: to foster peace and reconciliation across racial, cultural, social and economic divides through a shared passion for music.

“Everyone who has gotten to know the Libertas choir over the years will agree that there’s something unique about it. It’s a choir where the emphasis does not lie in self-satisfaction, but in recognition towards others,” said Chairman Christoff Pauw in his opening address. “Johan and Louwina set the example by believing in the best of people. That you have to give each one a chance to reach his potential. And to give credit to every achievement, no matter how small, how big, or by who, without any discrimination.”

The spirit of diversity is reflected in the choir’s versatile repertoire which features classical works, oratoria, a capella music, indigenous music and adaptations of local works.

Founder and conductor Johan de Villiers

Over its 30 year history, the choir has enjoyed many highlights, including seven concert tours abroad – six in Europe and one in the USA – not to mention performances on live television and in front of prominent figures like Nelson Mandela and the Duke of Kent.

However, for all its world acclaim, its focus has always been local.

“The choir endeavoured always to reach out to our own people, to their  communities, and to continue breaking down barriers and shifting  boundaries,” says Pauw.