The Songmakers’ Guild is an organisation dedicated to the performance of art songs in all languages in the Cape Town area. It was established by Albie and Hanna van Schalkwyk and Johan and Margaretha Stemmet in 1994, and has since showcased many prominent art song performers from South Africa and abroad in a wide variety of programmes.
Graham Johnson, pianist and world-renowned authority on the art song, started an organisation in London called “The Songmakers’ Almanac” in 1976 while he was still a student. He regularly featured four of his fellow students – Felicity Lott (soprano), Anne Murray (mezzo-soprano), Anthony Rolfe Johnson (tenor) and Richard Jackson (baritone) – to create interesting programmes around a central theme. These programmes investigated forgotten repertoire, put known repertoire into new contexts and always produced performances of excellent quality – similar goals to what the founding members of the Guild had in mind when they formed their organisation in 1994. The name “The Songmakers’ Guild” is a tribute to Graham Johnson’s “The Songmakers’ Almanac”.
In 2022, a new chapter started for the Guild when the long-time committee members handed over the reins to Esthea Kruger, Minette du Toit-Pearce, Magdalene Minnaar and Christine Bam. The committee was further extended with the addition of Hlengiwe Mkhwanazi and Christon Southgate in 2023.