Sound / image installation
The African Choir 1891 Re-Imagined

21 September – 1 October 2016

Rivington Place

London, UK


In this new sound installation – a work in progress – South African composers Philip Miller and Thuthuka Sibisi re-create a 19th century performance by The African Choir as a contemporary sonic interpretation.

Part of Autograph ABP's Archive Laboratory, open for 10 days only.

Working with fourteen young professional singers, the composers reinvent songs based upon the original concert programmes in London during the summer of 1891. The contemporary singers are drawn from choral groups and opera schools in South Africa; each singer corresponds with a counterpart with his or her vocal type in the original fourteen-member African Choir, who toured Britain between 1891 and 1893, performing to great acclaim and large audiences at venues such as Crystal Palace, and for Queen Victoria at Osborne House.

Their repertoire was divided into two halves: one comprised Christian hymns sung in English together with popular operatic arias and choruses; the other traditional African songs.

Their portraits, first exhibited in 2014 as part of Black Chronicles II, had remained unseen for more than 125 years. They constitute the most comprehensive body of known photographs portraying African sitters in Victorian Britain.

Curated by Renée Mussai.
Presented by Autograph ABP in partnership with UCL’s Institute of Advanced Studies and the Centre for the Study of Contemporary Art.


  • The installation will be in Autograph ABP’s Black Chronicles Archive Laboratory from 21 September – 1 October 2016 in the second floor gallery.
  • A free panel discussion and drinks reception Sound & The Archive will take place on September 26, 6.30 – 9pm. Book tickets >

Supported by

Part of The Missing Chapter programme, supported by Heritage Lottery Fund.

Developed in association with the Hulton Archive, a division of Getty Images.

The African Choir 1891 Re-Imagined is realised with support from the South African Department of Arts and Culture, and Mr Jonathan Levy.

About the artists

Philip Miller is a South African and international composer and sound artist based in Cape Town. His work is multi-faceted, often developing out of collaborative projects in theatre, film, video and sound installations. One of Miller’s most significant collaborators is the internationally acclaimed artist, William Kentridge. His music to Kentridge’s animated films, and multimedia installations, has been heard in some of the most prestigious museums, galleries and concert halls all over the world, including at dOCUMENTA (13) in Kassel, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and the South Africa Pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 2013. Miller’s new video and sound installation ‘Bikohausen’ was  premiered in Germany’s Darmstadt Summer Music Festival in August 2016.

Thuthuka Sibisi graduated with a Bachelor of Music from Stellenbosch University in 2011. Alongside his music studies he completed studies in Physical Theatre and Movement Practice with Sam Prigge and Estelle Olivier. Thuthuka has toured extensively, performing throughout South Africa, Asia, South America and most recently, in China where he served as Musical Director to Philip Miller’s Pulling Numbers (premier) and for Ciné-Concert, presented as part of Notes toward a Model Opera by William Kentridge. Thuthuka made his Italian debut as Music Director for William Kentridge/Philip Miller’s Triumphs and Laments in Rome, Italy, in April 2016. Further projects include a collaboration with Cape Town Opera as Musical Director for Musiquées Sacrée d’Afrique et d’Europe, in residence at Festival International d’Aix-en-Provence 2016.

Visiting information

Autograph ABP
Rivington Place
London EC2A 3BA

The entrance is on the side of the building

We are located in the heart of Shoreditch, a short walk from Old Street, Liverpool Street and Shoreditch High Street stations.
Buses: 26, 43, 48, 55, 67, 149, 205, 242 and 271

Opening hours
Tues, Wed, Fri 11am – 6pm
Thurs 11am – 9pm
Sat 12 – 6pm

The gallery is closed on Sundays, Mondays and Public Holidays.

Entry to Rivington Place and all exhibitions is free. Our Gallery Assistants in the exhibition spaces are happy to answer questions about the exhibitions.


Rivington Place is fully accessible, with a lift and step free access to all areas of the building.
Please phone ahead to book a disabled parking bay, or if you would like to discuss your access needs: 020 7749 1240.

Visiting information >