Choir Members

Meet The Chanticleer Singers

Richard Cock

Richard Cock Conductor Richard was born in Port Elizabeth and educated at Woodridge Preparatory School and the Diocesan College, Cape Town. He pursued his musical studies at the Cape Town College of Music, where he graduated in 1971. In 1972, he won a scholarship to the Royal School of Church Music (RSCM), where he was awarded several prizes and diplomas. In 1978 he became Director of Music at the Cathedral Choir School and assistant organist at Chichester Cathedral. During his years in England he became a Fellow of the Royal College of Organists. After his return to South Africa in 1980, Richard breathed new life into the National Symphony Orchestra as Music Director from 1991. However, it is as a choral trainer and conductor that he is best known. He was organist and director of music at St Mary’s Cathedral for 12 years and was elected a Fellow of the Royal School of Church Music for his services to church music in South Africa. He founded the Symphony Choir of Johannesburg and the internationally recognized Chanticleer Singers 34 years ago. In 1999, Richard left the orchestra to pursue a freelance career and to stimulate music activities throughout South Africa. As a conductor, he is in much demand countrywide. In May 2000, he received an Honorary Doctorate in music from Rhodes University. In 2012 he received a Parnasus Award from Stellenbosch University and in 2013 a special award from the ATKV for his 30 years’ dedication to spreading the love of music in South Africa. In November 2014 he received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Arts & Culture Trust. He is chairman of the Apollo Music Trust. He also serves as a Board member of Business Arts South Africa, the Ingoma Trust and the Johannesburg Festival Orchestra, and he is on the Music Committee of the Grahamstown National Arts Festival.

Nicholas Nicolaidis

Nicholas Nicolaidis

I first sang with the Chanticleer Singers (aka SABC Chamber Choir) back in 1989 at the Philip MacLachlan Choral Workshop in Windhoek whilst still a chorister at the Drakensberg Boys’ Choir. It was an experience that inspired me to make singing and music my career. I officially began singing in the choir in 1994 and have been challenged and inspired by the choristers I have had the privilege to sing with, as well as being mentored by our dear and esteemed Maestro. I enjoy swimming and a good single malt. My greatest blessings are my love of Christ, my family and music/song.


Genevieve de Carcenac

Genevieve’s love of choral singing started at an early age. During high school, she was a member of the Northern Natal Youth Choir, and at varsity she sang for the RAU Choir and the National Youth Choir. She has also sung as a member of Collegium Vocale and the Excelda Chamber Choir. Genevieve had the privilege of joining the Chanticleer Singers in January 2011, during which time some of her favourite and most memorable performances have been of the Brahms Requiem, Rachmaninov Vespers and Britten’s War Requiem.  She is married to Daniel and they have 2 sons.  She is a management consultant by profession.

Louise Frahm-Arp

I started singing in one of Richard’s choirs at the age of 14 but only joined the Chanticleer Singers in 1996.  I am a trained musician with viola as my main instrument (which is regularly commented on in rehearsals).  At the moment I have given up all other music so that I can be a landscaper and plant plants in other people’s gardens.  I am married to Ludwig, an attorney and we have one daughter, Emma.  My favourite composer is Prokofiev and my favourite hobby is far more exciting – horse riding!

Christine Geldenhuis

Christine joined the Chanticleer Singers in 2004. She is a recorder player and specialist in Early Music and historically informed performance practice. Very HIPP. Christine enjoys cooking for friends; exploring flavours and recipes from her excessive collection of cookbooks. Her cat is named after her favourite spice.

Jana Kershaw

Jana sang for the Chanticleer Singers in 2008, before departing for a secondment to London and upon her return Jana re-joined the Chanticleer Singers in 2015. Jana works in asset management and has two small daughters, Mila and Zara, who has inherited her love for music and singing.

Marianne le Roux

The choir’s flower girl, works as a botanical researcher during the day but at night her secret life involves music. She joined the Chanticleer Singers in 2012 after completing her studies at the University of Johannesburg. Apart from spending time at work (and choir), she also enjoys playing the piano, saxophone and flute, listening to live jazz, hiking, travelling and socialising with family and friends.

Este Meerkotter

I am a postgraduate student of English Literature at Wits University by day, and a chorister by night. I have been studying classical vocals privately since 2012,  which is also the year when I joined the Chanticleer Singers. I also sing for Beit Emanuel Progressive Shul, St George’s Anglican church, and Vocalize, my a cappella quintet. I love Jesus and am involved in campus ministry. I hope to study a PGCE in 2016 – beyond that I have no five year plan, though I can’t wait to see what becomes of me! I live with my two loving and supportive parents and sister. My favourite places include Parkhurst Community church, the Jolly Roger and Die Padloper Coffee Shop in Riviersonderend, in the Western Cape.

Tanja Rasmussen

I’ve been with the Chanticleers since March 2014. First gig was Handel’s Messiah at Easter – only in Africa… I am a Social Anthropologist working with community development with mining, oil and gas companies across Africa. A typical music nerd I went through a renaissance music only phase at age 13-15. It wasn’t enormously popular among peers. I enjoy being the Chanticleers’ token Dane, bringing a little Scandinavian culture and language confusion. And yes, I do also get cold in the South African winter!

Carol Shutte

Caz joined the Chanticleer singers in 2012 and is the crazy red-head in the choir who sings Soprano 2. She is currently the HoD for the Junior School music department at St Mary’s school in Waverley. She’s always loved music and began piano lessons at the age of 5 and has been involved in choral singing right from the start of Primary school choir. She did music for Matric at Kingsmead College and went on to study her MMus at Rhodes University. She studied Flute and Voice, majoring in Piano performance under the direction of Catherine Foxcroft and Conducting under Professor David Scarr. “I couldn’t imagine my life without music, it is the one constant in amongst the chaos of life. I miss it when we don’t have choir rehearsals on Mondays!”

Nicole Hilburn

I started singing in choirs at the age of 9 and joined the Rand Youth Choir during primary school. I was fortunate enough to attend St Andrews School in Bedfordview when Barbara Toms was the choral director, and sang in the St Andrews Choir through highschool as well as doing voice as my main instrument for matric music. Through university I sung in the UCT choir, and studied voice with Sally Presant and on my return to JHB, joined Collegium Vocale and a number of other small chamber choirs before joining the Chanticleer Singers where places for sopranos are like hen’s teeth! By day I am a paediatric physiotherapist, and run my own practice in Parkview. I am married with two daughters – Emma and Olivia.


Diana Cowen

My inspiration to sing started at the age of 6 when I fell in love with Joan Baez, her voice and songs.  This then branched out into a passion for choral music of any sort, but particularly the Renaissance period.  I spent my teenage afternoons in the glorious candlelit chapels of Oxford listening to college evensongs and regularly falling in love with the singers.  I joined my school choir and subsequently my university choirs, and choirs in whichever country I lived, Russia, Italy, Greece and now South Africa with the Chanticleer Singers.  I am eternally grateful for the ability and opportunity to sing and to teach music to children (my daytime job).

Susan Harrop-Allin

Dr. Susan Harrop-Allin is a lecturer, teacher-educator and pianist who has worked in music development and teaching in South Africa for twenty five years. She started playing the piano at the age of four, performing a Mozart Piano Concerto when she was 10 years old, and performing in chamber ensembles and orchestras as a cellist and pianist at school and university. Susan holds a Performer’s Licentiate (ABRSM) and PhD in music education and ethnomusicology at Wits University, where she now lectures in the Schools of Arts and Education. Susan trains Arts and Culture teachers for arts NGOs and performs as an accompanist and chamber musician, particularly with Il Trio Rosso and as a member of The Chanticleer Singers. She was one of three arts and culture finalists for the Shoprite/Checkers Woman of the Year in 2004, in recognition of her community music development work. Susan publishes and researches in the area of community music, ethnomusicology and music education and has published several book chapters and journal articles in international and local publications. She is also on the editorial board of the International Journal of Community Music and a director of the Johannesburg Youth Orchestra Company and Rena Le Lona Creative Arts centre for children in Soweto.

As a Chanticleer member for fifteen years, singing in this wonderful choir is an important part of my musical life. I’m privileged to make music together with such accomplished singers, under the direction of maestro Richard Cock.

Karien Labuschagne

Karien was born and raised in Johannesburg, South Africa and is currently the Director of Music at Pridwin Preparatory School. She started piano lessons at 5 years old with Claudine van Breda. Throughout her schooling career she participated in numerous local and national eisteddfodau and competitions. At 14 she participated in “Virtuosi per Musica di Pianoforte”, an international piano competition in the Czech Republic and at 17 she went to Lithuania to participate in the “International Balys Dvarionas Compeition for Pianists and Violinists”. She also took up playing oboe in high school. During her studies at the University of Pretoria, Karien played oboe for the UP Symphony Orchestra and had the opportunity to perform with most of the professional orchestras in South Africa.

It is only after completing her BMus degree, specialising in piano performance under Prof. Joseph Stanford, that she discovered the joy of choral music. She joined the now disbanded Musica Mundo adult chamber choir in 2008, after which she joined the Symphony Choir of Johannesburg in 2012. She has been a member of the Chanticleer Singers under the direction of Richard Cock since 2014.

Karien is a passionate musician with a love for learning new instruments. In 2011 she picked up saxophone as an instrument, while substituting for a colleague on maternity leave. She has since passed Grade 8 saxophone on both alto and soprano saxophone (both with distinction) and plays in a saxophone quartet, “Saxy Ladies” on a regular basis. She also performs as part of the Pridwin Music Staff Band at their annual Jazz festival.

Marga Sander

Marga Sander obtained her BMus (Hons) from the PU for CHE under the supervision of Bernarda Swart.  She received training as accompanist from Anna Bender and singing training from Sarie Lamprecht. Marga was the music director of the UJ Arts Academy (2006-2012). Highlights include Rocco de Villiers’s Jozi Ma Sweety and Black Street Jazz staring Abigail Khubeka.  She made her conducting debut with Ian von Memerty’s Jump for Joy and had the honor of conducting members of the Joburg Festival Orchestra for their production of West Side Story.

Theatre highlights include: Phantom of the Opera (for Pieter Toerien), assistant music director for Dirty Dancing (Pieter Toerien), assistant music director for Aladdin. (Joburg Theatre), Sound of Music Kids Music Director (Pieter Toerien), assistant music director and assistant conductor for West Side Story (Fugard Theatre).  Later this year she will be returning to the Joburg Theatre as Music Director for their annual pantomime, Sleeping Beauty.

Other highlights include: Carmina Burana for 2 pianos and percussion, Mahler 5th Symphony, written for 4hands on1piano, and singing  the Rachmaninov Verspers and Bach’s St John’s Passion under the direction of Richard Cock.

Adri Woudstra

Dreaming of a career in music as a young girl, I eventually decided that the Diplomatic Service was an easier way to see the world.  Hence, a ten year career doing that followed my studies in International Politics.  If life is a series of sweeping changes, that may explain why I then ended up raising three boys with my husband in Pretoria and counting our home-based business’ beans.  Had I listened to my dad’s advice, I would have actually been qualified for my current job as bookkeeper, and not pulling my hair out every year-end.  Not that I mind my life (even taking into consideration that I’m the only female at home apart from a very small dog).  Singing, however, remained the constant thread throughout the many turns my life took.  With the nudging of a long-time friend and now former Chanticleer member, and the indulgence of the Maestro, I’ve been part of the choir since 2009.  My husband would tell you with great conviction that it is one of the more important ingredients in the maintenance of sanity in our household.


Bernhard Böhmer

Bernhard joined Chanticleer as a Tenor around 2006. A qualified Electronic Engineer, he works and resides in Pretoria, with a loving wife and four kids keeping the home fires burning. He conducts the local church and synodical youth choirs of the FELSISA and has a special appreciation for its magnificent Lutheran theological and musical heritage, the latter perhaps best expressed in the works of Schütz and Bach.

Rainer Johannes

Rainer joined the Chanticleer Singers in May 2015, following in the footsteps of his older brother Roland who had sung with the choir more than a decade ago. Having grown up in a German speaking home filled with the sounds of Bach and Schütz he considers the German Baroque masters to rule the musical world. Outside of music he works as a budding Urologist at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto, essentially making him a glorified plumber. He also loves rugby (Sharks forever), golf, single malt whisky and hiking in the Drakensberg.

Mzukisi Kota

My choral music journey began at the age of 4 when I was mercilessly used to contribute the cuteness factor at a concert put on by the church choir which was ran by my family! Since then, I sang in school and church choirs throughout my school years and in the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University Choir in my varsity years. After singing in many choirs in SA and abroad in the post-varsity years, and working with incredibly gifted musicians, I finally found my way to the Chanticleer Singers around April 2016.

I am a lawyer by day, specialising in large-scale infrastructure projects and a sometimes-musician most nights. I remain convinced that my primary purpose in all the choirs in which I have sung, including this one, is still to bring the cuteness factor! 😉


Wion Flett

Wion (aka “Hoofseun”) joined Chanticleer in September 2006 as a baritone. Favourite works include Rachmaninov’s Verspers, Brahms’ Ein Deutsches Requiem and Bach’s St John’s Passion… so basically, the bigger the better!

When not singing, Wion is a fund manager specialising in listed African investments, an avid Scuba diver, loving father and managed to marry high above his league. The versatile nature of the choir’s repertoire, ability to master some really tricky music and the ‘lekker gees’ is what keeps him crossing the Jukskei every Monday evening with a smile. He does not like it when you mention the “Whiskey Flask” incident.

Hendre van Zyl

I am a Company Secretary at a large banking group in Johannesburg. I am not a typist (although I CAN type!) – Company Secretaries arrange the meetings of the board of directors, take minutes and prepare the meeting documentation, amongst many other things. We are the guardians of corporate governance of a company. I started in 1999, so that makes it 17 years in 2016. I am married to Louise and we have two children, Heinrich and Anina, two Golden Retrievers, Sebastian and Jessica, two budgies, Blouie and Groenie, and two goldfish, unnamed! My favourite composer is definitely Johann Sebastian Bach…and piece of music, his St John’s Passion. Very difficult to pick one. My hobbies include swimming (is that a hobby?), gardening, art and antique collecting, travelling.

Zayne Upton

Zayne joined the Chanticleer Singers in early 2015 when he returned to Joziburg from Cape Town while fleeing the hipster revolution. Like his Drakensberg Boys Choir schoolmate Nicholas Nicolaidis, Zayne was also introduced to the choir back in 1989 and has harboured a secret desire to be a part of this great musical bunch ever since. When Zayne isn’t singing, you’ll usually find him on one or other quest to understand more about life, the universe and everything.