Roelof Temmingh’s Kantorium:a reflection on suffering and redemption

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English: Roelof Temmingh’s Kantorium (2003/4), a large-scale work for choir, soloists and orchestra, won the prestigious Helgaard Steyn award in 2006. Temmingh commented briefly on his extremely difficult personal circumstances during its creation. Should a composer suffer in order to produce great music? This question raises the wider problem of contextuality, as well as concomitant theoretical/philosophical considerations. Profoundly religious in nature, the work, whose text is in German, was written for a European audience by an Afrikaans-speaking composer in post-apartheid South Africa. It does not embody any clearly overt political values, nor does it attempt to serve as a repository of cultural identity. Moreover, according to the composer, his personal circumstances were not a prerequisite for its creation.