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Keren Terpstra : Associate Artist

Photo of Keren Terpstra

Keren Terpstra was born in Brisbane and grew up in Sydney. Terpstra's interest in composition started around the same time she discovered J.S. Bach at the age of 12, although she did not write seriously until her final years at school. At this time she was introduced to the works of Clare Maclean – the first Australian composer to have a major influence in her work.

She went on to obtain a Bachelor of Music degree with Honours in Composition from the University of Sydney, studying with Ross Edwards, Ian Shanahan and Anne Boyd, and a Masters Degree under the supervision of Anne Boyd.

After leaving school, Terpstra became involved in several church choirs. Her interest in sacred choral music was heightened in her second year by the study of 16th century counterpoint with Winsome Evans, an event she regards as akin to a conversion experience in her compositional life. Terpstra's work is permeated with chant–like resonances, abounding in modal juxtaposition and tight counterpoint. Most representative of her style are Sanctus for Julia (2001), written for a friend's HSC performance, and Lead, Kindly Light (2000).

Several works have been well received including Jesu Dulcis Memoria (2000). Christo Paremus Cantica (1999) has also proved very popular, particularly with Sydney choirs; it was performed as a test piece by the Conservatorium of Music Chamber Choir at the Bartók Competition in Hungary in 2002, and has been featured on overseas tours by the Choir of Christ Church St Laurence. Other works include Three Tenebrae Responsories (2002) for the choir of St Peter's Eastern Hill in Melbourne; Guardian Angel (2003), a short work suitable for a young child to sing; Rosa Mystica (2002) commissioned for SCEGGS Darlinghurst's Speech Night, and Justorum Animae (2004).

Terpstra returned to Brisbane in 2005 to train for ordained ministry in the Anglican Church of Australia. She is currently serving as Assistant Curate at Trinity Anglican Mission, Robina, on the Gold Coast. Her interest in music for the liturgy has continued, with the commission of A Solis Ortus (2006) for the girls' choir at St Mary's Cathedral, Sydney, Mass for St Francis (2006), dedicated to her colleagues at St Francis' Theological College, Brisbane, and Missa Trinitatis (2007), written for the Parish of Pascoe Vale, Melbourne.

Terpstra describes her compositional approach as 'a searching for the Light'. Theology is sometimes described as 'faith seeking understanding' (fides quaerens intellectum). Music, for Terpstra, is an inevitable and essential strand in that quest.

Biography provided by the composer — current to July 2008

Selected Commissions

  Work Commission Details
Digital sheet music sample Sanctus : for Julia : soprano voice with piano (2001) Commissioned by Julia Pitt-Owen for her HSC post-1975 Australian composition performance requirement.