Worldwide there are many schools with boys’ choirs, but the Drakensberg Boys Choir is unique and one of only a few of its kind, globally: a boarding school using choral music as a significant vehicle for holistic education.
The mission of the Drakensberg Boys Choir School is to prepare boys for life and leadership through excellence in music, academics, physical development and social enrichment, in a Christian environment.
The Tungay Family Story
Russell Tungay had started on an autobiography which he called “Taming the Dragon” where he describes how he, together with his parents and brothers, came to the Cathkin Valley in the early 1950s. The Tungay family used to holiday in the Cathkin Valley every year and one year Gwen “Ma” Tungay bought part of “old man Erfmann’s” farm when he subdivided it in 1955.
In 1960 the oldest brother, Peter Tungay, was killed in an air crash. This devastated the family as Peter had always expressed his desire to take over the farm and start a dairy. In 1963 the family started a caravan park on the farm to generate much needed money to keep the farm running.
In the meantime, John Tungay, who was a choirmaster at the Trinity Congregational Church, approached his parents to take over the farm and turn it into a choir school. In 1966 John began adding onto the farmhouse a dormitory, dining room, kitchen and a classroom.
Twenty boys enrolled in the first year of the school’s existence (1967). By the second year there were 60 boys enrolled! “The boys were like the Pied Piper, they would attract boys from everywhere they went.”
It became clear to John right in the early days that in order to travel overseas, the choir had to be the best in the country. And in order to achieve this they needed two hours practice every day. His initial idea of trekking the boys to Winterton for their academic tuition had to be re-thought and that was when he asked his mother, “Ma” Tungay, to step in and help teach academics to the boys.
The Tungay family continued to play a pivotal role in the history of the Drakensberg Boys Choir School with Russell taking over the management of the school in 1968. The Tungay family sold the school and the 100 acre estate and buildings to a Board of Directors in 1981.
The entire Tungay family – Ron, Gwen, John, and subsequently Russell – were intimately involved in laying the foundations in one way or another of the Drakensberg Boys Choir School. How little they could have realised how much of a national asset their dreams and hard work, in often the most difficult and challenging circumstances, would become.
The Drakensberg Boys Choir tour throughout South Africa and internationally annually. The touring choir consists of a smaller group of boys who are rearing to share their talents with audiences in their home towns!
To book the Drakensberg Boys Choir for a concert in your home town, please contact the touring manager, Steven Wellbeloved at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Drakensberg Boys Choir School hosts two annual Music Festivals on the school campus, namely Music in the Mountains and Christmas in the Berg.
Music in the Mountains is held over three days at the end of April/beginning of May each year and offers a quality craft market, delicious food, performances by well-known South African artists and a variety of energetic performances by the Drakensberg Boys Choir.
Christmas in the Berg is the last event on the Drakensberg Boys Choir’s annual calendar. This intimate family festival takes place at the beginning of December each year and is a celebration of Christmas. Festival goers can expect a variety of Christmas concerts performed by the Drakensberg Boys Choir as well as a quality craft market and delicious food.
For upcoming concerts, check out the website http://dbc.nutickets.co.za/
Wednesday Concerts and Tours
The Drakensberg Boys Choir is synonymous with high-energy performances, which have been captivating audiences for the last 50 years. The choir embraces the versatility, stamina and raw talent of boys from across the country and abroad to create a choral spectacular, jam-packed with a variety of musical styles ranging from classical and contemporary choral gems, to billboard pop hits, to authentic indigenous South African music. Join us for an afternoon of guaranteed entertainment at one of our 34 annual Wednesday concerts and let our young stars creep deep into your heart with their sincerity and youthful spirit.
When: Every Wednesday during the school term at 15h30
Where: Ken Mackenzie Auditorium at the Drakensberg Boys Choir School
Dress Code: You are on holiday so come as you feel comfortable
Tickets: Adults R160, Pensioners R145, Children R120.