Village Harmony

South Africa Camp – January 2 – 22, 2019 – $2100 adult / $1700 youth

Date: January 2 - 22, 2019
Venue: Nylesvley Nature Reserve, Limpopo Province, South Africa
Leaders: Bongani Magatyana, Matlakala Bopape, Larry Gordon
Price: $2100/adults, $1700/students


Put some sunshine and adventure into your winter! This will be Village Harmony’s tenth study-performance camp in South Africa. You will come away from your 3-week adventure—which will take us from the rural far northeast of the country to the townships of Cape Town during South Africa’s peak summer travel period—with an insider’s understanding of the musical and cultural diversity of this amazing country.

The camp will begin with a week in residence at the Nylsvley Nature Reserve in Limpopo Province, learning and rehearsing our concert program, following which we will begin a two-week performance tour, meeting up with local choirs and dance groups and enjoy the hospitality of home stay hosts both in South Africa’s northeastern quadrant and in the Western Cape.

long-roadDuring our rehearsal week we will focus on learning South African songs and their dances, including traditional gospel, church chorus, folk and struggle songs. Bongani will teach anyone who is interested the bongani-at-cape-town-festivalbasic steps for miners’ gumboot dancing.

In addition Larry will also teach the group an eclectic sampling of American and world music choral arrangements to add diversity to our concert program.

Eight Sotho and Xhosa singers from Matlakala and Bongani’s choirs will join us as full participants in the camp, enriching the learning experience and the cultural exchange all around.

We will spend the next week touring in the northeast part of the country, staying with local home stay hosts and giving concerts and meeting with other ensembles in churches, schools and community centers, including a choral festival with an overnight stay in Soweto.

Mid-way through our performance tour we will fly from Johannesburg to Cape Town, where Bongani will arrange a week of concerts and collaborations with local choirs in and around the city while we take every possible opportunity to explore the beautiful sights of the Cape.

cape_town-from-airWe will suggest flight itineraries for everyone, but participants will be responsible for arranging for their own transportation to and from South Africa, and for a one-way flight mid-tour between Johannesburg and Cape Town mid-tour. We recommend that you plan to arrive in South Africa at least a day early to adjust to the time change.

Space in the camp will be limited to 25.

We will be looking for a balance of teens and adults as well as of men’s and women’s voices in the group.

We try to make this and our other international camps more affordable for high school & college student participation by offering a youth discount.

$2100 adult / $1700 youth (age 25 or under)


Apply Now!


Bongani Magatyana

Bongani_MagatyanaBONGANI MAGATYANA is a professional singer /music director /composer /theatrical producer living in Gugulethu Township in Cape Town, South Africa. He was born in Cape Town in a township called Old Crossroads; his father was a self-taught choir conductor in the Old Apostolic Church. Bongani’s father taught him how to read and write tonic solfa music notation at a very young age, and young Bongani dreamt of becoming a church choir conductor, too. Today he conducts a 120-voice OAC choir himself, as well as a community male choir.  His folk-inspired choral compositions—popular pieces for South Africa’s major choral competitions—are sung by choirs around South Africa and internationally. Currently Bongani teaches at the Zolani Centre in Langa Township, leads an educational musical theatre company, and continues to compose music in a variety of genres, bringing vibrant performances to communities across Cape Town. Bongani has been teaching with Village Harmony in South Africa and the US since 2012.  He is a wonderful dancer as well as singer, and he is particularly adept at communicating the elusive rhythms of South African songs.




Matlakala Bopape

matlakalalgMATLAKALA BOPAPE, of Polokwane, South Africa, is the director of Polokwane Choral Society—a community-based group whose aim is nurturing musical talent in African society. As a director, Matlakala is committed to drawing out musical excellence from her singers, as well as exposing them to musical cultures of the world. Her limitless patience, careful attention to vocal technique, and rich repertoire of folk and contemporary South African choral music make her a formidable teacher. This will be Matlakala’s 17th year teaching with Village Harmony, after a fortuitous initial meeting with Patty & Larry at Festival 500 in St. John, Newfoundland in 1999.


Larry Gordon

Village Harmony founder and director LARRY GORDON has been making community music in Vermont since the early 1970s. He founded Village Harmony in 1989, and his patient and relaxed, yet demanding, teaching style and his collaborative approach have shaped the welcoming atmosphere of the Village Harmony community since the beginning. Though his first love was medieval and renaissance music, he is a vital figure in New England shape-note singing, and he is the music editor of the popular Northern Harmony shape-note songbook. Larry is an inspired organizer with an unerring eye for good repertoire and a unique knack of pulling together interesting combinations of singers and letting them shine.  Larry has led Onion River Chorus in Montpelier since the late 1970s, and is well known across the US and internationally for leading stunning periodic ad hoc incarnations of Northern Harmony, a semi-professional tour group made up largely of veteran Village Harmony singers.  Recently he has been devoting increasing time to teaching Balkan folk dancing.



Nylesvley Nature Reserve, Limpopo Province, South Africa

imagesNylsvley is one of the top birding spots in Southern Africa, with at least 365 species recorded. We will stay in the nature reserve’s lodge, with double room accommodation in a nicely-renovated dormitory building and separate building with a spacious kitchen and rehearsal space.

The reserve is a Ramsar site known for  “the conservation and wise use of all wetlands through local and national actions and international cooperation, as a contribution towards achieving sustainable development throughout the world”.