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The Local’s Choice – maths and music

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Professor Johan de Villiers was born in Cape Town. As a child, he spent some time in Graaf Reinette and then moved to Bloemfontein, where he attended Grey College. In 1966 he started studying at the Stellenbosch University. Wilgenhof Men’s Residence was his home for the first four years, where he joined “Die Kraaie” as the conductor of this singing group, the first stepping stone as a conductor.

Three days after marrying the love of his life, Louwina, on the 21st of December 1970, they hopped onto the RMS Windsor Castle, destined for England. De Villiers received a scholarship at University of Cambridge, where he did his Ph.D. in Mathematics. They lived in Cambridge for almost 4 years, before returning to Stellenbosch. In 1976 he became the conductor of the Stellenbosch University Choir and lead the choir for 8 years.


RMS Windsor Castle


Johan, who does not like to talking about himself, rather talks about people and projects that he is passionate about and the Libertas Choir is one such passion. The choir was established in April 1989 under the auspices of the Women for South Africa movement. Johan has been the conductor from the start, and together with his wife, Louwina, who is the manager of the choir, the Libertas Choir has performed on quite a few world-renowned stages. The Stellenbosch Libertas Choir was South Africa’s first permanent adult choir with a totally multi-cultural, multi-racial, multi-social status and ecumenically based membership. It is indeed representative of all our country’s peoples, bound by a love for music and the gift of singing.

Stellenbosch is close to his heart because of its small-town charm. When stopping by the pharmacy or grocery store, people recognize you and greet you. It the small things like joking with the familiar faces behind the cash register that add quality and joy to your life. There is a feeling of unity and a wonderful sense of community.


It is impossible to be a mathematician without being a poet in soul. Photo by Alfred Thorpe.


He is a keen golfer and has been a member of the Stellenbosch Golf Club for 46 years. A 4-ball with his son over weekends is a regular occurrence. Accessibility and affordability of the course make it extremely popular for locals, especially with spectacular views of Simonsberg from the 7th hole.

When visiting wine farms over weekends, Vriesenhof is a popular stop. Another favourite farm for the family is Middelvlei Wine Estate. The warm-heartedness of the farm makes them feel at home for the occasional birthday celebration.

Asked about his favourite Stellenbosch restaurants, Johan shares that he loves sitting on the stoep at Basic Bistro with friends, enjoying a hearty meal and watching the world go by. It is the perfect place from where to spot friends and locals going about their business. Another favourite restaurant is Terroir at Kleine Zalze, where the dining experiences are always special, or Restaurant Barrique at Vredenheim for Sunday lunch with the family.

You can catch Johan de Villiers in action, this Saturday – 11 July at 7pm when Stellenbosch on Stage brings you a virtual performance of the Libertas Choir in the comfort of your home. Get tickets here and don’t miss out on the best listening experience of the year:


Libertas Choir performs virtually


Make it a super special evening and order in takeaways from your favourite restaurant and open a bottle of Stellenbosch Wine.

#StellenboschOnStage #warmheartStellenbosch #proudlyStellenbosch #TheLocalsChoice