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Edwin Mitas

The current conductor of the Pretoria Bach Choir

Edwin Mitas was born in Claremont, Cape Town on 15 November 1984. Bred in the little Karoo town of Oudtshoorn, he showed a love for sport and music at a very young age. He excelled equally in both, achieving provincial colours in rugby and conducting choirs from the age of 12. He recalls: “My first memory of choir singing was as a toddler attending a congregation choir practice with my mother in George. I was especially attracted to the acapella singing, which certainly laid the  foundation for my early music development and love for choir singing. However, it was the persons standing in front of the choir, waving their arms, that fascinated me the most. I often found myself imitating the choir conductor during practices and church services. At one Sunday afternoon service, the conductor on duty did not pitch up. There was no one to lead the choir. Soft whispers came through the choir benches encouraging me to go up and lead the choir. I plucked up the courage and walked forward, taking the lead, much to the delight of the choir and congregation. The rest, as they say, is history.”

It was eventually his passion for music that saw him relocate to Pretoria in 2004 to pursue his musical career in the South African Air Force (SAAF). He currently serves as principal clarinetist (ATCL) in the SAAF band and obtained his Licentiate in music directing (LRSM) under the mentorship of Gerben Grooten. A short stint as the conductor of the SAAF HQ Choir in 2017, saw them crowned with their inaugural title as National Champions of the South African National Defense Force (SANDF), a first in the history of the SAAF!

In 2016 he successfully launched a choir at the Belgium IT campus in Pretoria. Then, in 2017, Edwin was appointed as resident conductor and artistic director of the University of Pretoria (UP) Onderstepoort Community Choir. Under his leadership the choir was crowned Champions of the Open Category for University and College Choirs in the 10th World Choir Games held in South Africa in 2018. He was also selected to form part of a South African delegation for an International Conductors Exchange Program (ICEP) to the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA) in 2019 where he worked with choirs in various states.

Edwin is also very active in his church's music ministry, which sees him teaching choir and orchestra. He was influential with the launch and successful establishment of the New Apostolic Church Gauteng Concert Choir and Orchestra in 2019.

On 3 October 2021, he was also at the helm of successfully launching the Community Philharmonic Orchestra based in Tshwane.

In 2021 Edwin was asked to lead the Pretoria Bach Choir to continue the long-standing legacy of this choir. After two long years of COVID-imposed on-line choir practices, the PBC has finally been able to rehearse in person again under the energetic leadership of Edwin, and the choir has emerged from this ‘hibernation and self-isolating practicing’ with Handel's iconic masterpiece The Messiah to be performed on 24 April 2022 on the 60th anniversary of the choir.

Edwin is married to Andrea Kayser-Mitas. Their union has been blessed with a Godly offspring of three daughters, Emily, Emlynne and A'vigail.

Edwin’s gratefulness for the opportunities of leading many choirs over the years is echoed in the words by Johan Sebastian Bach: "I play the notes as they are written; it is God that makes the music." SDG

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