Teamwork makes the dream work

Special Project Leaders

Bernard Krüger

Artistic Programme Director: Group Projects

As a musician, conductor, composer, arranger and music educator with international experience Bernard Krüger is always trying to explore new ways of engaging with performers and audiences. Although he is classically trained, he is equally comfortable in contemporary styles. Bernard’s specialties include strategic development, musical and theatrical conception, vocal training, advanced musicianship, and much more lately that to sing TOGETHER brings the biggest joy of all.

Merna Nicholls

Programme Director: CCNF Academy

Merna Nicholls has always had a passion for music and choral singing. She has been privileged to sing and work with some of our country’s and the world’s most prestigious conductors and choral educators. After completing her undergraduate degree in Music she went and stepped into the Music education sector. After gaining insight and experience in the music education sector, she gained her masters in Music education specialising in the role of music education in a multicultural South-Africa. She has always had a passion for education and education through music.

Having been part of some of our country’s most prestigious choirs, she knew how big of an opportunity and platform it was. She has understood the importance of giving back and sharing her knowledge as a choral singer herself but also sharing choral education through her academic qualifications in Choral education. Enriching choirs with new knowledge and working with conductors who have not had the opportunities she had is what drives her to teach and grow the choral community through teaching.

Leon Starker

Programme Director: Mzanzi Conductors Convention

Leon Starker completed a B.Sc. degree with Chemistry and Maths as well as the Higher Education Diploma at Stellenbosch University. During his student years he studied singing with Prof. George van der Spuy and sang in the Stellenbosch University Choir.

He holds both an advanced Diploma in Choral Conducting as well as an M.Mus. in Choral Conducting from the Nelson Mandela University where he studied with well-known South African composer-conductor couple, Péter-Louis and Junita van Dijk.

Leon has been the conductor of the Cape Town Youth Choir since 2003. While they focus on a cappella music they have also performed major works such as the Rachmaninov Vespers, Händel’s Messiah (broadcast on national television in 2018), Arvo Pärt’s Passio (St John Passion) and Karl Jenkin’s Armed Man a Mass for Peace. They have recorded numerous CDs.

With CTYC, Leon has travelled the world where they presented concerts in venues such as Carnegie Hall in New York, St Paul’s Cathedral in London, and the Mozarteum Großer Saal in Salzburg. They have participated in various international competitions, winning gold and most recently winning the prize for the best performance of a contemporary work at the International Chamber Choir Computation in Spittal an der Drau, Austria (2019) and placing second in the mixed voice category of the 2022 edition of the Marktoberdorf International Chamber Choir competition.

Leon taught choral conducting at the University of Cape Town College of Music from 2015 till 2018.

Leon’s day job is database developer, and SQL and VBA programmer. He is married to Louise (a music teacher), and they have three daughters.

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