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NEW MUSIC INDABA 2003 (article first published : 2003-05-17)

The New Music Indaba, the annual showcase of NewMusicSA, the South African section of the International Society for Contemporary Music, opens in Grahamstown on June 27 and - for the first in Johannesburg– on July 4

The New Music Indaba, South Africa’s premier forum for cutting edge music, once again brings leading performers from the international New Music scene to Grahamstown and Johannesburg to collaborate with South Africa’s best.

This year the programme explores twin themes: the 20th century’s electronic music guru - Karlheinz Stockhausen at 75 - and a multifaceted look at women in music – Sisters in the Mix. Fifteen specially-commissioned works by South African composers, four concerts featuring the music of Stockhausen, Phase 2 of the successful Bow Project, a centenary tribute to South African-born Priaulx Rainier, a six-hour electronic music exhibition, music theatre, five choirs and an orchestra and much, much more.

Seven of the new commissions can be heard during the Bow Project Phase 2, celebrating the uhadi bow music of Nofinishi Dywili, the legendary bow player from Lady Frere. Reviewing Phase 1 of the project, music critic Gwen Ansell wrote: “If you wanted a reason for having national arts festivals, the Bow Project provided it“ And this year, composers Paul Hanmer, Philip Miller, Theo Herbst, Matteo Fargion, Lloyd Prince, Mokale Koapeng and Julian Raynham (of Honeymoon Suites fame) reimagine the music of the late Nofinishi Dywili.

There are two new works for string quartet including a Z3 song cycle by Philip Miller in collaboration with Neo Muyanga, popular singer and member of Blk Sonshine with texts by leading South African poets Ingrid de Kok and Kgafela Magogodi. And three composers including Carlo Mombelli and Jürgen Bräuninger have written “live” score for some of the short experimental films of American avant-gardist Maya Deren.

The Indaba kicks off with OperaWorks – The Concert which includes music with theatrical elements by the composers-in-residence and highlights of the opera writing course which takes place in Grahamstown during the preceding seven days. Works such as The Barpianist (Theo Loevendie) and Satie and his Sense of Shoelaces (Christina Viola Oorebeek) are included. American soprano, Beth Griffith, the singing sensation of last year’s Indaba, returns for this concert and several other appearances during the week.

Two duos from Europe each give two concerts – a Stockhausen programme and one of New Music from their respective countries. The popular Dutch piano duo team of Nora Mulder and Pauline Post bring Stockhausen’s 1970 masterpiece Mantra (with ring modulation) while Ancuza Aprodu (piano) and Thierry Miroglio (percussion) from Paris introduce Stockhausen’s classic 1960 work for piano, percussion and pre-recorded tape Kontakte (Contacts). Also from Europe the Salzburg-based Aspekte Ensemble bring new works for flute, clarinet, violin, cello and piano specially commissioned from Matteo Fargion, Jürgen Bräuninger and Reinhard Febel.

The Sontonga String Quartet, appear in many guises including their own Sontonga Late Night Sessions and among others introduce to South Africa two works by composers with KZN connections – Howick-born Priaulx Rainier who centenary is being celebrated this year (her sole quartet) and Pietermaritzburg-born Kevin Volans (his fourth quartet, The Ramanujan Notebooks).

The Choral Music Weekend, something of an Indaba tradition now, comes in the form of three events this year. The annual Saturday massed choir concert by three of the top Eastern Cape choirs singing Stravinsky, Mjana, Tsambo among others, is followed on Sunday by two visiting choirs from Gauteng. Mokale Koapeng’s Pretoria Chorale sings Glasser with the Indaba Festival Orchestra and the SDASA Choir begins a survey of South African sacred music in Revival of the Spirit.

The work of Stockhausen also appears in a celebrity piano recital by South Africa’s New Music diva Jill Richards - with etudes by Volans, Fargion and Ligeti – and in a performance of Mikrophonie 1 (Stockhausen’s 1964 classic for tamtam, microphones, filters and potentiometers) given by Stellenbosch University’s KEMUS Ensemble. Then to experience the magnitude of Stockhausen’s influence on the 20th century, listeners can wander through the Electronic Music Gallery for a six-hour continuous performance of computer music, electronic music and video installations, both with and without live performers.

NewMusicSA’s ongoing project Growing Composers creates opportunities for South African composers to attend courses, hear their music played, meet other composers for discussions and exchange of ideas, benefit from compositional exchanges with other countries including The Netherlands, France and the UK, and to participate in compositional projects such as the Bow Project. OperaWorks and the Composers Indaba are two courses being offered as part of this year’s New Music Indaba.

OperaWorks is directed by Mary Rörich and taught by composer Theo Loevendie and writer Jane Taylor while the Composers Indaba - now a fixture on the New Music landscape (with sponsorship from The Gaudeamus Foundation, The Royal Netherlands Embassy, MMINO and SAMRO ENA), is taught this year by a distinguished faculty of Christina Viola Oorebeek, Matteo Fargion, Jürgen Bräuninger and Kevin Volans. Both courses have performers in residence at the disposal of the participants.




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