Stunning Drakensberg Experience! The Drakensberg Boys' Choir
Travelling to South Africa? Well, you’re going to Cape Town, right? And you want to see if you can get the Big 5? Here’s something that’s better than Cape Town. Better than the Big 5. And it’s the Drakensberg Boys’ Choir. There aren’t that many things that are unique or world class in South Africa, but the Drakensberg Boys’ Choir is one of them.
Thirty-six years ago, the Drakensberg Boys’ Choir was born. The dream was of a multi-racial, multi-cultural Choir School to rival the Vienna Boys. Not in the middle of a history-rich, ancient European city. But in the boondocks. In a beautiful, rural, sparsely populated valley in the Drakensberg Mountains of KwaZulu Natal, South Africa. The first and only one of its kind on the continent.
Doors opened in 1965 to the first 20 pupils, after John Tungay persuaded his parents, Ronald and Gwen, to dedicate 100 acres of their farm to his proposed school. Today the annual intake is 100 boys between 9 and 15, and auditions are held nation-wide.
Can you think of anything more sublime than crisp, mountain air, majestic mountains, azure skies and natural beauty as far as the eye can see, complemented by the pure tones of counter-tenor harmony?
The Drakensberg Boys’ Choir tours overseas every year and is internationally recognized as one of the best in the world. And they aren’t just holier that thou brats either – after hours they’re into rapids tubing, abseiling and Drakensberg hiking. They work hard and play hard.
Be prepared for diversity. If you like a good dirge, stay away. The Drakensberg Boys’ Choir has very catholic tastes. The first half of the concert is classical. You might hear Bach or Beethoven or Mozart. The second half can be anything. It could be Queen sung in rounds by groups of immaculately trained 12-year old tenor and bass vocalists. (Freddie Mercury would have loved it). Or folk, or jazz, or sacred music. Or African harmonies you’ve never heard before that will bring tears to your eyes.
Come with tissues. And a jersey, for the goosebumps. But whatever you do, BE THERE. The Drakensberg Boys’ Choir performs most Wednesdays during term time at 3.30 p.m. There is a world class auditorium on campus.
If you’re in the area on a Wednesday, you’ve got time for an early lunch (or a late breakfast) and a scenic drive along Route R600. Its not called the Champagne Valley for nothing. Or if you’re planning on December, go to the Drakensberg Festive Celebration, a four-day extravaganza of music, with lots of guest artists, Xmas music, and stalls for shopping.
So if you’re coming to South Africa – sure Cape Town’s good and you need the Big 5. But the Drakensberg is good too. And you really shouldn’t miss this.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Brian & Janette Kemp own and run an award winning Drakensberg accommodation establishment. Halls Country House is a 4-star country retreat in the foothills of the Drakensberg in KwaZulu Natal, South Africa.