THE UNIVERSITY OF PRETORIA CAMERATA
The University of Pretoria Camerata, which celebrated its 47th anniversary in 2015, has received many national and international accolades through the years. The choirs’ mission is to contribute towards the cultural development of the student body, to enrich the broader community by means of choral singing, and to act as cultural ambassadors of the University of Pretoria.
The Tuks Camerata (as the choir is affectionately known) strives towards achieving the highest artistic standards and offers students from all backgrounds a place where they can express themselves through choral music. This richly diverse South African ensemble specialises in both Western and Traditional African choral repertoire, making it a unique and much needed voice in a modern day South Africa. Tuks Camerata falls under the auspices of UP Arts in the Faculty of Humanities and consists of 74 full-time students from a variety of study fields, including medicine, engineering, theology, education, economics, accounting, law and music. It is interesting to note that only 8 choir members study music, while the engineering students outnumber all the other study fields! Previous conductors include Adolph Theron, Willem van Tonder, Petru Grabe, Johann van der Sandt and Christo Burger – all who maintained a standard of excellence expected from a university choir.
Since 2013, Michael Barrett was appointed as conductor and Director of Choral Activities at the University of Pretoria. Over the years the choir has travelled to more than 20 countries, including Australia, Austria, Britain, Denmark, Finland, France, Hong Kong, Hungary, Italy, Kenya, Latvia, Namibia, The Netherlands, Sweden, Tanzania and the USA. In July 2014 the choir participated in the 8th World Choir Games held in Riga, Latvia. The Tuks Camerata competed in two categories, namely Mixed Youth Choirs, where they were announced the “Champions” (overall category winners) with an unbelievable 95,25%, and Scenic Folklore, where they were placed second overall with 95%. In September, the Tuks Camerata released their latest album, Phoenix, which has been received to critical acclaim. The album was nominated for the Best Classical/Instrumental Album in the 2015 South African Music Awards (SAMA) - South Africa’s most prestigious music awards.
Michael Joseph Barrett, conductor
Michael Joseph Barrett is the Director of Choral Activities at the University of Pretoria (UP), the conductor of the Tuks Camerata and a lecturer in Choral Conducting in the Department of Music at UP. He was a member of the Drakensberg Boys’ Choir from 1992 to 1997. He obtained the degrees BMus in Performing Arts (cum laude) in 2005 and MMus (Performing Arts), specialising in choral conducting from UP. He holds a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) from UNISA and a Performance Licentiate in Singing (2008). He is in the final stages of completing his Doctorate of Music at UP specialising in Choral Performance. In 2009, Michael worked with Bo Johannson (Sweden) during the World Symposium on Choral Music in Denmark. The next year he conducted the Berlin Radio Choir with Simon Halsey (UK) and Joe Miller (USA), and in 2013 he worked alongside Nicol Matt (Germany) on a programme of Morten Lauridsen’s music.
Michael has also worked alongside Maria Guinand (Venezuela), Thomas Caplin (Norway), Andre Thomas (USA) and several other conductors. Michael’s choirs have won numerous national and international awards, as well as choral competitions all over the world, including the 8th World Choir Games (Latvia 2014); St Petersburg Choral Competition (Russia 2013); Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod (Wales 2012); Krakow International Advent Choral Competition (Poland 2012); Europe and its Songs (Spain 2010); and the International Youth Music Festival (Slovakia 2010). Michael is also an active composer and arranger. His music is published by both Santa Barbara Music Publishers and Baobab Music Publishers. His work,Indodana, was selected for a reading session presented at the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA) in Salt Lake City in February 2015. Umahlalela has been presented at conferences across the USA and two more published works will be published by Santa Barbara Music Publishers in January 2016. Michael attends workshops regularly to stay up to date with all the latest trends in choral music. He has recorded several CDs, and in 2015 Phoenix by Tuks Camerata was received to critical acclaim and nominated in the category Best Classical/Instrumental Album at the South African Music Awards (SAMA).