Palissander, one of South Africa’s premier chamber choirs, is an independent amateur choir of international standing that was formed in 1992. The choir has to date performed to great acclaim in Canada, Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands, Kenya, Italy, France, Germany and Spain. The choir’s core values are passion, abundance, joy, respect and acceptance.
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 2017 theme, "Flying free", celebrates 25 years of the choir’s existence by encouraging each one of us to live life to the full.
Palissander has been associating itself with organisations that care for vulnerable children and youth. Vulnerable teenagers, together with their social worker, regularly accompany the choir on its overseas tours. In 2006, the choir received the South African Choral Society Award for the best contribution to community development through choral music.
Palissander has to date released eight CDs. It is based in Pretoria, South Africa and currently consists of 29 members.