Established in 2009 with a special focus on collaboration and service, Classical Movements‘ extraordinary Ihlombe! South African Choral Festival features a true diversity of international choirs performing for effusive audiences in every venue imaginable, making for what the Cape Times calls “singing that nourishes the body and soul.” Over the past decade, Ihlombe! has featured nearly 90 choirs from some 10 countries throughout the entirety of South Africa. From July 1-20, 2018, the 10th anniversary edition of Ihlombe! honored the 100th anniversary of the birth of Nobel Peace Prize-winning icon Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela. In the spirit of Madiba’s prized ideals of “Hope, Freedom & Unity,” selected ensembles hailed from five major American cities—Atlanta Young Singers (Paige F. Mathis) of Georgia; Singing Sensations Youth Choir (Dr. Hollie Hood-Mincey) from Baltimore, Maryland; Mt. San Antonio College Choir (Bruce Rogers) from Los Angeles, California; Seattle Children’s Chorus (John Hendrix & Kris Mason) of Washington; Children’s Chorus of Washington (Margaret Nomura Clark) of the District of Columbia—performed 12 collaborative concerts with more than 19 African youth, church and community choirs, exchanging cultures through shared workshops, side-by-side rehearsals and outreach projects across the Rainbow Nation.

On Wednesday, July 18, 2018 at 7:00 p.m. at the historic St. George’s Cathedral in Cape Town, the 10th annual Ihlombe! South African Choral Festival’s “Mandela at 100: Voices of Hope, Freedom & Unity” celebration featured individual performances from all participating ensembles, as well as two world premieres commissioned by Classical Movements’ own Eric Daniel Helms New Music Program for the entire 2018 Ihlombe! mass choir, under the baton of world-renowned University of Johannesburg conductor Sidumo Nyamazele. Decorated University of KwaZulu-Natal professor Phelelani Mnomiya  composed a powerful setting of Madiba’s famous It’s In Your Hands Now speech—delivered on his 90th birthday during the 46664 AIDS charity concert at London’s Hyde Park. Penning his own text for the second Ihlombe! mass choir commission, award-winning University of the Western Cape professor Sibusiso Njeza’s Uthando Nomculo (“Love and Music”) piece urges us all, in his words, “to love more, to see beyond the color of one’s skin, religion and sexuality.”

(Ihlombe! 2019: 12-19, July; Ihlombe! 2020: 17-24, July)

Ihlombe! Testimonials:

“Unforgettable memories of a perfect itinerary, around-the-clock assistance,
impressive landscapes, the most cordial encounters and great concerts remain with us.”

Christoph Bachmann | Founder & Director of Choirs, Jugendchor Konservatorium Winterthur

“Musically, we had an opportunity to hear some very fine choirs from South Africa and the United States.
Culturally, we visited places that will change our lives forever, giving us all memories that will last a lifetime.”

Dr. Eric Conway | Choir Director & Fine Arts Chairman, Morgan State University

“Classical Movements is making leaps and bounds in promoting not only music,
but sharing, cultural diversity and a true appreciation of humanity.”

George Gobingca Mxadana | Director, Imilonji kaNthu Choral Society

“South Africa is an extraordinary destination for choral music,
and the team at Classical Movements helped us create an unforgettable trip.”

Dr. Jeffrey Douma | Music Director, Yale Alumni Chorus

 “Ihlombe! was the best travel/performance experience I’ve ever had. The choirs we performed
with were outstanding, as were the excursions. Thank you for the positive change on my life,
as well as the lives of all who experienced Ihlombe!”

Timothy Sharp | Music Director, Miami Children’s Chorus

Ihlombe! Press:

“Ihlombe! is a life-changing cultural, social, and educational opportunity to travel to another country.”

-Washington Informer, Gale Horton Gay | April 24, 2013

“A grand concert at Pretoria City Hall…exhilarating performances.”

-Pretoria News | July, 2013

“One of the aims of the [Ihlombe!] festival is to see choirs performing out of their usual areas, and that goes beyond merely just hosting international groups. Even local choirs will have the opportunity to branch out into new communities. ‘The music here is very compelling. People around the world should know about it,’ says Neeta Helms.”

-Cape Times, Terri Dunbar-Curran | Aug. 5, 2010

“Despite cultural differences, music does play a huge role in bringing people together. This was endorsed during the Ihlombe! South African Music Festival held at the University of Pretoria on Saturday.”

-Pretoria Rekord, Thokozile Mnguni | July 25, 2014

“Ihlombe! showcases not only local talent but unique circumstances too, such as the All Saints Blind Choir from Ga-Rankuwa. They have also partnered with accomplished names in choral music, like George Kamxadana. Then there is the issue of the premiere taking place in Soweto. The township affords the Canadian and American choirs a chance to witness a part of our country that they would otherwise not have seen.”

-The Citizen, Sibusiso Mkwanazi | July, 2010

“The prestigious Ihlombe! South African Choral Festival…”

-Washington Post, Petula Dvorak | July 25, 2013

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