Dr Johann van der Sandt

(1996 – 2008)

The choir was initially established as a project choir in 1996, and was conducted by Dr Johann van der Sandt until 2008, when he accepted the position of Musical Director at the Drakensberg Boys Choir School.

Johann van der Sandt received his formal undergraduate education at the University of Pretoria. During this time he was a member of the Tukkiekoor (University Choir of Pretoria), under the direction of Prof. Petru Gräbe.   In January 1996 he received a diploma in choral conducting at the Institute of Choral Conductors Training (now the Gorinchem “Hogeschool” for Music), Gorinchem (the Netherlands) under the direction of Joop Schets. He completed his doctoral studies in Choral Conducting (Performing Arts) in July 2001. Undergraduate music studies included organ, piano, clarinet and vocal training.Johann is active as a composer and is well known for his choral arrangements, performed by national and international choirs. His first publication, African songbook for mixed choir, was published in collaboration with the composer Niel van der Watt in June 1995. Under his artistic direction, Prospect (a German label) has launched the CD series titled South African Choral Music.

He has conducted many choirs since 1989 when he made his debut with the Impromptu Chamber Choir. He led the East Rand Youth Choir for six years and was also the conductor of the Rand Afrikaans University Choir. He started Singkronies Chamber Choir in 1996. In 1999, van der Sandt was appointed choirmaster of the then Tukkiekoor, now known as the Tuks Camerata. Johann also the conducted the choir of Hoërskool Waterkloof (Secondary School Waterkloof), Pretoria until July 2008.

Johann was professor in choral conducting at the University of Pretoria until July 2008. He was the official choral conductor of the University where he implemented a unique model for choral singing on South African university campuses. Johann introduced Choral Conducting as an academic subject at the University of Pretoria in 1999. Since then he has developed this academic subject extensively.

Choirs under the direction of Johann van der Sandt have won numerous competitions, both on an international and national level. In 2001, the Tuks Camerata won the first prize in the acclaimed International Choral Competition, Spittal an der Drau, Austria. In 2007, during participation in the 46th International Choral Competition “C.A. Seghizzi” in Gorizia, Italy, the choir distinguished itself by being awarded first prize in the Jazz category, as well as being awarded for the best performance of a prescribed work. At the same event, he himself was awarded the prize for the best conductor.

Johannis regularly invited to act as an adjudicator in choral competitions and is highly sought after as a guest lecturer by Universities all over the world. Under his baton the Tuks Camerata was also invited as guest choir to the World Choral Symposium in Minneapolis in August 2003. Johann concluded his 10 year conducting and lecturing career at the University of Pretoria at the end of June 2008 to accept the position of Musical Director at the Drakensberg Boys Choir, where he is affectionately known to the boys as “Doc”. After starting at the Drakensberg Boys Choir, he still conducted Singkronies until the end of October 2008, commuting from the Drakensberg from June for weekly choir rehearsals!