Palissander, one of South Africa’s premier chamber choirs, is an independent amateur choir of international standing that was formed in 1992.
The choir’s core values are passion, abundance, joy, respect and acceptance. The choir has to date performed to great acclaim in Canada, Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands, Kenya, Italy, France, Germany, Spain, Estonia and Finland.
The name Palissander is a reference to the fourth volume of poetry by the Afrikaans poet Boerneef, entitled Palissandryne. In the opening poem of this volume Boerneef writes of his recorder of palissander wood (a precious dark brown wood, related to jacaranda wood) that plays "palissandertaal" (palissander language). Later in the volume the poet uses the word "palissandertaal" repeatedly as a synonym for music.
Sarita Hauptfleisch, who still conducts the choir, founded Palissander with the purpose of making soul music. This has developed into the choir becoming an ambassador for love and peace to both local and overseas communities. The choir achieves this by engaging the audience not only musically, but also intellectually and emotionally through programmes bound together by central themes. This converts a choir concert into a spiritual experience for all.
The theme approach enables an extremely diverse repertoire to be drawn together into a cohesive whole. Since 2004, the annual themes have addressed topics such as peace, democracy, tolerance, our response to HIV/AIDS and respect for the earth. Palissander’s 2018 theme, ”umShimulu - Tree of life”, is inspired by the African tree of life, the baobab, under which many African villages are established. Just as people in rural villages need to work together to make it possible for children to dance, sing and love, we need to form virtual villages with people that cross our paths so that all of us may dance, sing and love. Moreover, the programme challenges us to become trees of life ourselves under which other people may feel safe and nurtured to establish villages of their own.
The choir is based in Pretoria and consists of around 28 members.