9 July 2007
South African Cantata plays in Brooklyn
Composer Philip Miller's REwind: A Cantata for Voice, Tape & Testimony is inspired by and based on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission proceedings, which broke South Africa from its apartheid past in the 1990's and ushered in its democratic present. The work combines South African vocal soloists (including the opera superstar Sibongile Khumalo) and a string octet with a 100-voice choir made up of members of the Total Praise Choir of Emmanuel Baptist Church of Brooklyn, New York, a group of South African ex-pats led by the Lion King choirmaster Ron Kunene, and the Williams College Choir. The piece also incorporates sampled audio recordings taken directly from the TRC hearings - testimony from victims of apartheid atrocities and their lawyers as well as the torturers, soldiers, and government officials on trial. Through this testimony the collective memory of South Africans was built. REwind: A Cantata for Voice, Tape & Testimony is an extraordinary and important work - a real artistic excavation of South Africa's transition from apartheid to democracy. The United States premiere was hosted in Brooklyn on 6 July 2007. We were there! More information about the piece can be found here. You can see video clips of the production here.