Vetta Wise; Founder, Director & Conductor
Born in South Africa of British and Greek parentage, Vetta studied at the University of Cape Town and then on the Ernest Oppenheimer Scholarship, at the Royal College of Music Opera School and Nice Conservatoire (France). She won prizes at the RCM, and performed in recitals and oratorio in the UK. After returning to SA to sing with the Pretoria State Theatre Opera Company, she performed as soloist with the Cape Town Symphony Orchestra and the SABC National Orchestra, gave many recitals, and was a regular recording artist for radio and TV in SA. She was subsequently appointed Chorus Master of Cape Town Opera for 12 years, where she helped to establish the ground-breaking Choral Training Programme and Opera Vocal Ensemble. She was also Director of Music of the Philharmonia Choir of Cape Town and several other choirs and ensembles.
Vetta held singing teaching posts at the University of Cape Town, lecturing in both the Opera and Drama departments, and also in Choral Training and Music Education. She travelled throughout the country presenting workshops and adjudicating festivals, and co-ordinated and trained massed and other choral performances for, inter alia, Yehudi Menuhin, Seiji Osawa (for the Winter Olympics), the LPO, Birmingham Royal Ballet, Sir David Willcocks and Pavarotti’s South African Tour. She was on several committees, including the Caltex Massed Choir Festivals (in which she also conducted many times) and the Musica Mundi Choir Olympics. She has had the high honour of receiving both the Nederburg Opera Award and the SAA Prize for her contribution to choral music and opera in South Africa.
Now based in the UK, Vetta has conducted and worked with many choirs in her fourteen years there, including founding both the Pakefield Singers and the award-winning North Suffolk Youth Choir, and has also conducted choirs in Italy, Austria, Germany and Denmark.
Vetta was a Voice Tutor for the University of East Anglia and also has a private singing studio in Suffolk. Many of her students are now professional soloists or have been accepted at the main UK music conservatoires. She presents Voice Workshops and Singing Days for choirs, teachers and solo singers (including the Britten-Pears Chamber Choir, the Framlingham Phoenix Singers, the Norwich Philharmonic, Ipswich Choral Society, the Aldeburgh Music Club, “Vocal Force” and “Sing Up”).
Other highlights have been conducting an Opera Gala at Blythburgh; leading a week’s choral and singing course on Bach Cantatas at Missenden Abbey and a Youth Choirs Workshop in Ely; being appointed chorus director for the Britten centenary performances of the “War Requiem” at Bury St Edmund’s Cathedral; and concerts with Norwich Baroque.
In the past few years she has presented choral, solo voice and conducting workshops in the UK and SA. Her Solo Performing masterclasses – collaborating with outstanding pianists Jonathan Rutherford and Karen Smith – have gained a substantial following in the area. For the Beccles, Great Yarmouth and other Festivals, Vetta has planned, trained and conducted massed and community choir performances of the Faure and Mozart Requiems, Haydn’s Creation, Verdi’s Requiem, Orff’s “Carmina Burana”, Tippett’s “Five Spirituals” and The Queen’s Birthday Gala (Handel and Purcell Odes and Anthems) in St Nicholas’ Minster. In Cape Town she conducted Haydn’s “Creation” in August and Handel’s “Messiah” at Cape Town City Hall at Easter. Delighted to be a small part of the development of the phenomenal vocal talent in South Africa, Vetta regularly travels back to Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban to lead workshops and master-classes and to carry out international adjudication duties.
The formation and popularity of Seraphim two years ago has kept her increasingly busy, with performances in East Anglia, Worcestershire, Venice, London and Jersey, and a new collaboration with Norwich Baroque. She hugely enjoys planning their “Secret Spaces” musical pilgrimage series, which is a project close to her heart: and loves exploring, discovering and introducing to audiences the wealth and beauty of upper-voice music both old and new.