VOX Cape Town aims to promote South African choral music by performing music by local composers. VOX also supports the genesis of new music to expand and invigorate the local choral repertoire. To demonstrate its commitment to contemporary South African choral music, VOX intends to commission new music from local composers on an annual basis.

For further information about singing the works listed below with your ensemble, or if you would like to make contact with one of the composers or authors, drop us a line at [email protected].

Usque ad sidera tellus (‘Earth rising up to the stars’) (2023)

Commissioned by VOX Cape Town for Timeless Whispers
Composed by Denise Onen (b. 1995)

This piece, commissioned from audio alchemist Denise Onen for the all-South African choral celebration Timeless Whispers, is intended to evoke the “awe, wonder and environmental existentialism” of the expansive Karoo. Read more about this piece…

Find the Light (2023)

Commissioned by VOX Cape Town for “Music for Children’s Mental Health”
Composed by Kristi Boonzaaier

This piece was commissioned from Kristi Boonzaaier together with the Music for Children’s Mental Health concert organising committee as part of raising awareness of child and adolescent mental health issues. Read more about this piece…

Weggewerp (2019–2020)

Commissioned by the SAMRO Foundation
Requested by VOX Cape Town
Composed by Hans Huyssen

Weggewerp is the title of a cycle of settings of four Afrikaans poems by Hans Huyssen. It was initially inspired by a poem, scribbled on the walls of an abandoned Karoo cottage, that was discovered by Derek McKenzie. Delayed by the Covid-19 pandemic, the first live performance of this work will take place as part of Timeless Whispers, our Karoo-inspired concerts on 14 October 2023. Read more about this cycle…

Two Pastoral Ballads (2019)

Commissioned by VOX Cape Town for Flower Songs
Adapted by Matthew Dennis (b. 1991, South Africa)

To set the scene for its botanically-inspired recitals at the UCT Irma Stern Museum, VOX commissioned local composer Matthew Dennis to adapt two wistful ballads, based on traditional folk songs from the British Isles and originally arranged by John Rutter, for its singers and clarinet obbligato (played by Matthew Ferrandi). They were Down By The Salley Gardens and The Sprig of Thyme. Recordings can be found on our fifth album, Of Barrels and Blossoms.

Molweni (We Are One) (2018)

Commissioned by VOX Cape Town and David Parry Davies for The Eco-Logic Awards 2018
Composed by Grant McLachlan
Words by David Parry-Davies

On World Environment Day (5 June 2018), VOX performed “long-distance” at The Eco-Logic Awards held in Tshwane, South Africa. This ceremony, rewarding individuals, organisations and communities that contribute positively towards a sustainable world, opened with the premier recording of Molweni. This specially-commissioned choral work, composed by Grant McLachlan, was a setting of a poem written by David Parry-Davies, editor of The Enviropaedia. The aim of this work was, in David’s words, “to put appropriately beautiful sound to these words that will create feelings and sensations of joy and exquisite beauty associated with our beautiful and precious Earth”. Help us to spread these exquisite sounds and sentiments! Read more about this piece…

Christmas In Africa (2017)

Commissioned by VOX Cape Town for the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols 2017
Composed by Maike Watson

Words by Margaret Kollmer

VOX Cape Town’s first commissioned choral work was a South African-flavoured Christmas carol. Maike Watson set to music a poem written by Margaret Kollmer entitled Christmas in Africa. This work was premiered at the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols in December 2017 and was also broadcast on Fine Music Radio on Christmas Eve of that year. Read more about this piece…

VOX Cape Town has also given the first performances of several new South African works that it has not itself commissioned:


“By-By, Lullaby”

Composed by Stephen Carletti (b. 1965, South Africa)
First performed at the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols in December 2019

Although I have a passion for traditional sacred music, much of my interest lies in the more contemporary composers associated with this genre: I am thinking of Lauridsen, Gjeilo, Ešenvalds and Whitacre, to name but a few! However, the first modern composer of our time that really lit up my world was John Rutter. Firstly, it was his Christmas carols, and then my obsession soon led to my buying all his CDs and music! Having said that, my modest carol, By-By, Lullaby, probably hints more at the sound-world of Lauridsen. It was one of those pieces that “wrote itself” – a category I have for compositions that flow naturally and smoothly from beginning to end with little fuss!


One of the most difficult things I experience as a composer of choral music is finding the right text; I’ve always loved Christmas carols so, in this instance, it was a lot easier than usual, as there is a plethora of texts to choose from. When I was writing this carol, I kept thinking to myself how wonderful it would be were VOX Cape Town to sing it and so I approached their fabulous conductor, John Woodland. I was thrilled when he chose to include it in their Nine Lessons and Carols at the end of 2019: I could not have hoped for a better premiere!

“Caged Bird”

Composed by Nicky Schrire (b. 1986, South Africa)
First performed at “Flower Songs” in July 2019

Caged Bird was inspired by the melodic simplicity and a cappella beauty of the traditional spiritual. The piece evolves gradually, first delving into the British choral tradition and then building into a contrapuntal, harmonically-rich work that embodies the same joy found in the works of composers such as Bobby McFerrin and Roger Treece. 


It was written in 2018 for the Global Call for New Music for Human Rights by the Fondazione Adkins Chiti. They called for female composers around the world to compose a vocal, choral or instrumental work inspired by the struggle for human rights.