Hearing is believing, says choir conductor

Wendy van Rensburg and the Helderberg Village Choir.

Helderberg Village Choir is fortunate to have two very well-qualified musicians at the helm of its affairs. In a previous article, its musical director, Rose Geyer, shared some of her experiences with the readers of Bolander.

Now the co-conductor of the choir, Wendy van Rensburg, also allows readers some glimpses into her life. She grew up in Cape Town and then went to study music at Rhodes University in Grahamstown. Here she sang in the Rhodes University Choir under the baton of Professor Georg Gruber. She also studied singing with Professor Gruber.

After these years her world was considerably enlarged when she won a music scholarship from the Royal Schools’ Associated Board of Music, which gave her the opportunity to study at the Royal College of Music in London.

In London she met many interesting personalities from the world of music as well as from church life. In fact, the Provost of Southwark Cathedral carried her bags into the secretary’s office of the Victoria League Students’ Club when she first arrived in London. And during her London years she regularly visited the church where the well-known Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones was preaching. The rector of her home congregation was the Reverent Dr John Stott.

After completing her studies she taught music at Farrington Girls’ School in Chislehurst, Kent before returning to Africa as music teacher at Ruzawi Anglican Boys’ Prep School in what was then Rhodesia. It was then that she decided to return to South Africa to attend the Bible Institute of South Africa, where she met her husband, Derek van Rensburg. After their marriage, she taught at Hoër Volkskool in the Karoo town of Graaff-Reinet before returning to the Boland.

They settled in Somerset West, where she found an outlet for her love of singing at Hottentots Holland High School, where she still teaches singing to individual pupils to this day. After their retirement they moved to Helderberg Village, where she soon found a second career as conductor with the Helderberg Village Choir.

Like the musical director of the choir, who went sailing on the Atlantic in her youth, Wendy has also shown aptitude for sailing. During a recent holiday in France, she confidently navigated the canals in Burgundy, bringing their party of four safely to their destination.

Wendy remembers her teachers with fond appreciation of all they did for her. Professor George van der Spuy, especially, who put her through her UTLM, the singing teacher’s diploma, gave her the confidence to teach the way she does. Helderberg Village Choir is fortunate to share in the benefits she reaped from his tuition.

Wendy believes in “warming up” before you sing. “The older you get, the more you should warm up before a performance. This does much for the tone of a choir.” Finally, she adds, “Hearing is believing. Come to our concerts and hear for yourself.”

Supplied by Jeanette Theron, chair of the Helderberg Village Choir.