Ambassador for love and peace / Theme-based programmes

Palissander is committed to breaking down boundaries between people. It has been using its theme-based approach to bring hope-filled programmes to both local and overseas communities:


Kaleidoscope voorblad

 The music reflects every person’s physical, as well as spiritual, journey through life. Like a kaleidoscope, one’s journey is everchanging.

The programme portrays the two mirrors of a kaleidoscope in the form of contrasting concepts that one encounters on a journey, such as alone/together, seeking love/having found love, old path/new path and storm/sun. A key reflection is that the destination is not more important than the journey. In each concert, the audience is invited to select the order in which the music is performed, based on the concepts that resonate most with them at the time. In this way, the concerts themselves are everchanging. The programme combines music by composers from around the globe with that of African composers. The music is accessible to everyone.

 Click here to view the Kaleidoscope repertoire.


Screenshot 2023 08 25 at 21.32.34

 The unusual title for our 30-year festival programme was inspired by the fact that planets make irrepressible music as they move through space. Like the planets, every person also has a unique voice that must be heard. Everyone’s song must be sung.

 “Scientists now say the planet itself is generating a constant, deep thrum of noise. No mere cacophony, but actually a kind of music. Huge, swirling loops of sound, a song so strange you can’t really fathom it, so low it can’t be heard by human ears...”

Click here to view the Sing like a Planet repertoire.


 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.


Palissander gala poster 2017 cropped

Our 25th anniversary programme focuses on the fact that music touches our soul and stays with us throughout our lives. Our birthday is also the birthday of life, of love, of the earth and of wings. Let us therefore fly free and celebrate life.

Click here to view the Flying Free repertoire.



As children, we dreamt how wonderful our lives could be. However, as we become older, we tend to allow our dreams to fade. This programme challenges each one of us to dare to dream like we did when we were children, to believe that these dreams can come true, and to allow our hearts to show us the way.

While following our dreams, we are not alone. We can find our loved ones in the stars: "You'll watch the stars at night. My star will be just another star in the sky. That way you'll love watching all the stars. They will all be your friends. Because I'll be laughing on one of them, to you it will sound as if all the stars are laughing. You'll have five hundred million bells, and I'll have five hundred million wells" (The Little Prince).

Click here to view the Trough the eyes of a child repertoire.



Our 2015 theme, "Man in the mirror", focuses on how we need to change in ourselves in order to make the world a better place. 



The title for the 2014 programme is an extract from the theme song Hier tussen ons. The theme song focuses on the love between people, God’s love for us, love that brings hope, love that is a hiding place from pain, and love that heals. Without love, we are nothing. We must therefore live in love. These different perspectives on love form the structure for the programme. 



Life is a journey. On this journey we can strive to reach a new way of living; a way of forgiving. The journey becomes easier if we have fellow travellers. Along the way we may meet strangers who take care of us out of kindness. But sometimes we need to make the journey alone, without loved ones. Forks in the road force us to decide which path to choose. While our chosen road may be uncharted, God’s grace provides protection as we proceed on our journey. 
The programme pays specific tribute to South African Nobel Peace Prize winners Nelson Mandela, FW de Klerk and Desmond Tutu who have walked the path before us and who have taught us that compassion, togetherness and forgiveness will guide us on our way.
We dedicate this performance to former President Mandela who celebrates his 95th birthday on 18 July 2013.


The 2012 theme portrays the fact that music and singing have been a light in the lives of choir and audience members over the past 20 years.
God is light. We therefore receive the gift of light together with the gift of music. Because music inherently contains light, singing brings light to life.

The title is a quote from Earth song by Frank Ticheli: “But music and singing have been my refuge and music and singing shall be my light – a light of song, shining strong. Through darkness and pain and strife I’ll sing, be, live, see – peace.”

Click here to view the A light of song repertoire.


As the scorched earth cries out in vain, our torn hearts cry out in pain. We can lose hope as we seek our place in the world. 
But the elements - earth, air, water, and fire - can nurture us:

  • the earth gives us food
  • the flowing air gives us peace
  • the river gives us water
  • the sun turns moments of dark despair into relief and rejoicing

Because the soul music of nature will always echo in our hearts, we can dance instead of cry.


The 2010 theme considered the fact that in the midst of life we are in death. In searching for consolation we realise that we need to reach out and that the Lord is our helper. We come to the conclusion that we do not need to fear death, as we will continue to live on in each lovely thing.


It is often said that we do not inherit the earth from our parents, but rather borrow it from our children. While man initially lived in perfect harmony with the earth, the balance has now been disturbed. This gives rise to the question: what will the earth look like when we return it to our children? Where will they and their children play? We need new insight in order to realise that we have only one earth and that we need to accept the responsibility of taking care of her.


South Africa is currently experiencing one of the worst AIDS epidemics in the world. By the end of 2007 there were 5,7 million people living with HIV in South Africa, with almost 1 000 AIDS deaths occurring every day. Each member of the South African community has to decide how to respond to this challenge.
The 2008 programme, Hymn to life, considered the numerous critical choices every person and community worldwide has to make as we search for our place in life and face challenges such as HIV/AIDS. Will we choose isolation, violence or compassion? Will we stand up for what we believe?
We are like music boxes - each with a unique song. The choices that we make reflect this song. What do people hear when they listen closely - a hymn to life, or a song of despair?


For the International Choir Festival of Sacred Music Palissander compiled a programme consisting mostly of South African music. The programme represented a conversation with God in which He is called upon to rid us of our intolerance. He replies that His blood brings redemption and hope and that He is with us whenever we show love and loving-kindness. Let us therefore walk in the way of the Lord.


The 2007 theme, Jubilate, celebrated the first 15 years of Palissander`s existence and portrayed the choir`s gratitude for having been blessed since its inception. The programme celebrated eight concepts that have given direction to the choir over the years: "Hope, faith, life, love, dream, joy, truth, soul".


In 2007, Palissander was invited by the University of Johannesburg Kingsway Choir to participate in two performances of Karl Jenkins` The Armed Man – A Mass for Peace, conducted by the composer.
The work is the latest in a six-century old tradition of "Armed Man" masses that take the fifteenth century French song "L`Homme Armé" as their starting point. According to Guy Wilson, Master of the Royal Armouries: "The theme that `the armed man must be feared`, which is the message of the song, seemed to me painfully relevant to the 20th century and so the idea was born to commission a modern `Armed Man Mass`. What better way both to look back and reflect as we leave behind the most war-torn and destructive century in human history, and to look ahead with hope and commit ourselves to a new and more peaceful millennium."


The 2006 programme, Vuka - live a new life today, focused on the African dream for peace, love and harmony. Although South Africa has been a democracy for more than a decade, much remains to be done to make this dream come true not only for South Africa, but for Africa as a whole. The title song of the programme, Vuka uzenzele - arise, do it yourself, states that we don`t have to wait for a new world to arrive - we can make it happen ourselves through love. This is equally true for every country and every individual worldwide. We don`t have to wait for tomorrow, today already belongs to us.


Palissander`s theme for 2005, Time(less), provided hope by contrasting our life on earth in which time and place are important with our timeless existence with God. The programme structure was to a large extent based on the text of the penultimate work, The present tense, which thanks God for the past, present and future, but in the end emphasises the present as the time of our life. This programme deeply affected the audiences during the choir`s tour to the West Coast of South Africa.


In 2004 Palissander again combined with members of The Soccajasco Kids to take part in the Ninth International Choir Festival of Provence with concerts in Italy and France. During this festival the choir performed a programme entitled "Siyahamba - we are marching in the light of God" to celebrate the tenth anniversary of democracy in South Africa. The choir received standing ovations throughout its tour and was invited by the organisers to do the closing performance during the final gala concert in St Maximin. The South African works from this programme were released on CD in December 2005.

2002/2003 PEACE

In 2002 Palissander established a multicultural ensemble including a Zulu praise singer and members of The Soccajasco Kids to perform a Peace programme at the 25th World Conference of the International Society for Music Education (ISME) in Bergen, Norway. The ensemble was the only performing group from Africa at the conference.
The Peace programme was also performed jointly by Palissander and The Soccajasco Kids at the 2003 conference of the Pan African Society for Musical Arts Education in Kisumu, Kenya. The programme was released on CD later that year.