Johann van der Sandt

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Johann van der Sandt
Johann van der Sandt

Free State Province , South Africa
Alma materUniversity of Pretoria

Johann van der Sandt was born in the Free State Province of South Africa. He studied at the University of Pretoria where he obtained his B. Mus (Ed), B. Mus (Hons), M Mus (Musiekwetenskap) and D Mus (Choral Conducting), as well as Diplomas in Individual Music education in piano, organ, vocal training and clarinet.

Van der Sandt had his first taste of singing as a schoolboy in his school choir and in the North-Transvaal Youth Choir. While studying at the University of Pretoria he sang in the University of Pretoria Camerata. He often attends overseas master-classes and symposia.

In January 1996 he received the Diploma in Choral Conducting at the Institute of Choral Conductors Training, Gorinchem (The Netherlands) under the direction of Joop Schets.


Van der Sandt held the position of Professor in Choral Conducting at the University of Pretoria and was the official Choral conductor of the University where he implemented a unique model for choral singing on South African University campuses until June 2008.

Recent invitations include:

  • Lecturer at the International Society of Music Educators World Conference in Porto Alegre, Brasil; * Lecturer at the International Federation of Choral Music World Symposium in Seoul, Korea;
  • Lecturer at the International Federation for Choral Music (IFCM) World Youth Choral Education Conference in Beijing, China;
  • Adjudicator at the World Choir Games in Riga, Latvia and the 12th China International Chorus Festival (CICF) in Beijing, China.
  • Jury member for the International Festival and Competition of Advent and Christmas Music with Petr Eben Prize, Prague, Czech Republic.
  • Regular jury member for the International Choir competition in Spittal, Austria.
  • Guest conductor for the Austrian government's Bundesministerium für soziale Sicherheit und Generationen in Graz, Austria (2002 and 2003)
  • Guest lecturer at the Institute of Music Pedagogy of The University of Music and Art, Graz, Austria; 2003.
  • Guest lecturer and conductor on the choral traditions of South Africa at The Performing Arts Institute of Wyoming Seminary (US) (2004,2005,2006, and 2008).
  • Guest conductor for Vorarlberg's Choral Association in Bregenz, Austria (2004 and 2006).
  • Guest Conductor in November 2005 for a combined choir of members of Musica and Cantinovum Chamber Choirs, Jyväskylä, Finland. The concert featured contemporary South African choral repertoire.
  • Guest lecturer at the Department of Musicology, University of Jyväskylä and the school of Music, Jyväskylä University of Applied Sciences, Finland (2004, 2005 and 2006).

Choirs under his direction have won numerous choral competitions, both on international and national level. The Tuks Camerata won the first prize in the acclaimed International Choral Competition, Spittal an der Drau, Austria. They attained a percentage of 98% in the competition. In the same year they were awarded the prize for the best rendition of a prescribed work in the Arnhem International Choral Competition (The Netherlands). Choirs (The Rand Afrikaans University Choir and the University of Pretoria Camerata) under his direction have been awarded the Grand Prix award at the [[Prague International Choral Competition [1]]] for two years consecutively. In 2007 Van der Sandt was awarded best conductor at the International Choral festival in Gorizia, Italy while conducting the University of Pretoria Camerata. The Camerata were also awarded first prize in the Jazz and Pop category at a 46th CA Seghizzi International Choral Competition held at the festival.

As conductor he has been awarded: winner of price for best conductor with the East Rand Youth Choir's participation at the 16th International Béla Bartók Choir Competition, Debrecen, Hungary, and in 1998, winner of the prize for best conductor with the Rand Afrikaans University Choir's participation at the Prague International Choir Competition, Czech Republic.

He was also the founder conductor of the Singkronies Chamber Choir. The choir's aim is to form a podium for the work of South African composers. In this way the choir endeavours to make a contribution to the archive of South African choral music. The choir was already nominated for two South African Music Awards in the category: Best Choral Performance. The choir won the 1998 South African Music Award for their recording of the sacred a cappella works of the Stellenbosch composer Pieter van der Westhuizen. In 2006 Van der Sandt put together Cant'Afrika, a singing group of 12 singers whose aim it is to study and perform works of South African composers.

He made his début as choral conductor in 1989 with the Impromptu Chamber Choir. He led the East Rand Youth Choir for six years (1993–1997). He strived to establish the choir as one of the leading youth choirs in the country with an extensive and diverse repertoire: simple South African and African folk songs, standard a cappella compositions and works by South African composers. In July 1994 the choir took part in the 16th Béla Bartók Choral Competition, Hungary, where they won the folklore section and they received the 2nd prize in the Mixed Youth Choir Section.

He is actively involved, nationally and internationally, in the training and development of conductors. He has regularly attended the IFCM, World Choral Music Symposia Under invitation from Eric Ericson he attended the following master-classes:

In July 2008 Van der Sandt moved to the Drakensberg Boys Choir school as director of music

During his time with the Drakensberg Van Der Sandt reconstructed the schools entire program of accepting boys into their main choir. He led numerous national and international tours. Bringing fame to the school and diversity into the lives of the boys. Van Der Sandt taught and nurtured boys who are now ambassadors of South African music. Van Der Sandt taught multiple master classes and exhibited the school at his seminars.

In June 2014 Van der Sandt moved to Italy to pursue his professorship.

Van der Sandt is also a composer and is well known for his choral arrangements, performed by national and international choirs. His first publication, in co-operation with the composer Niel van der Watt, was published in June 1995 – African songbook for mixed choir. Under his artistic direction the German label Prospect have launched the CD series South African Choral Music.

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