Lhente-Mari Pitout is a passionate musician and music educator in the rich traditions of the South African choral field. She works as a musician, conductor and adjudicator in both classical and contemporary genres. She regularly travels to Europe and North America to work as choral clinician or adjudicator at National and International Festivals. She has been awarded numerous prizes for her contributions to the arts as a singer and conductor.
Apart from conducting UP Youth Choir from 2005, she is also the conductor of the highly prestigious and awarded Pretoria Boys High School Choir and the St Mary's Singers. She is also the Co-Founder of the South African Youth Music and Arts Development Foundation.
She represented South Africa in the World Youth Choir and World Chamber Choir for six years touring and performing in over 15 countries.
Working and singing with renowned conductors at a young age from across the globe shaped her into one of the most highly esteemed female educators and choral conductors in South Africa. From a young age this massive influence on her as a young musician, made her realize the importance of working with singers in South Africa through choral music education.
Some of these musicians include Frieder Bernius, Tonu Kaljuste, Kåre Hanken, Robert Sund, María Guinand, André Thomas, Paul Smith, Anton Armstrong, Philippe Eskerei, Peter Erdei, Gary Graden, Steve Zegree, Michelle Weir, Roberto Gini, Peter Deijkstra, Volker Hempfling, Nobuaki Tanaka, Bobby McFarrin.
She served on numerous boards including the World Youth Choir, and acts as representative of UNESCO, with the title Ambassador of Good Will, World Chamber Choir.
Lhente-Mari is very passionate about the development of the Arts in South Africa, teaching students, singers and artists the expression and realization of dreams and ideas through the performing arts
Herman has been part of UPYC for 11 years, first as a singer and since 2009 as the Assistant Conductor. UPYC has opened many avenues for him and given him the chance to develop his passion for music. Herman currently conducts 4 of his own choirs of which 2 won gold at the World Choir games 2018. His arrangements of African music, as sung by UPYC, have been sung in Canada and parts of the USA. Herman has a passion for music education and character building and this is what has kept him as part of the UPYC family.
Being associated with the UPYC has opened my eyes to the potential of the youth in South Africa. These young singers often start out shy and leave as confident young adults that have learnt not only musical skills but also life skills. They find themselves in an environment where they can develop their unique talents to become more interesting individuals for their families and community, is that not the start of a recipe for success?
The UPYC foundation has been established because of the enthusiasm of the singers to bring communities together. The main fundraiser for the foundation is selling beaded products produced by street artists in Pretoria. These products are packaged by the disabled community and sold by the choir to international audiences across the world.
Michael, the bead artist, writes about the project ‘doing the beading has helped in the aspect that I can support my family financially and also creating employment for my colleagues who help me when the orders are big, it gives me courage to continue doing it and teaching others along the way as it shows one can make a living doing beads’
It proves to show that the joyful rhythm of the music runs throughs the veins of the youth, creating a positive culture to bridge the challenges of the diverse communities in our country.
Changing the world, one voice at a time!
Herman has been singing in UPYC since 2016. The end of 2018 he was given the opportunity to work as an Intern for UPYC in 2019.
As a singer, he had the opportunity to travel abroad with the choir to Europe and Canada and made wonderful memories with the choir. Herman decided to apply for the Internship to give back to the choir this time as part of the management in working with the exec team, to give the new singers the same opportunities and experiences he had a singer of UPYC.
Some of Herman's highlights was seeing Pentatonix live in Concert in Vancouver and performing for 5000 people in the audience at Vaison La Romaine ( France).
Herman speaks fondly and with passion about his experiences in UPYC - " UPYC has opened doors for me to become the person I am today. CHoir has always been part of my life and it changed the way I look at the world."
Wandi Grace Maphalala
Wandi sang in UPYC for two years, in 2015 and in 2016. Her love for music that runs in the family propelled her to audition for the choir as her older brother and sister sang in the choir from 2007 to 2009. “Being a singer in the choir awarded me numerous opportunities to learn, grow, travel and meet amazing people and I will always be grateful for that”
At the end of 2019 she was given the opportunity to intern and work as an assistant for the choir in 2020. In 2018 she traveled to France with Lhente when she was invited to come and workshop a choir of amateur French Singers in Ouistreham. “Seeing such a joyful group of passionate singers who were so excited to have us there and to learn our music truly warmed my heart. It showed me the power of music; to give and to transcend borders of race, color, and language to name but a few.
Wandi is like a big sister to the singers and to her this is a form of giving back to UPYC.
She will be graduating in April at the University of Pretoria with a Bachelor of Political Sciences in International Relations