For their hundredth year, the International Society for Contemporary Music (ISCM) takes World New Music Days (WNMD) to South Africa for the very first time.
This year's festival is curated by Lukas Ligeti, who leads the ISCM's exchange, celebrating the innovative and experimental new music developed in Africa.
Celebrating the festival's centenary, the ISCM's World New Music Days will run from 24 November to 3 December 2023 in Johannesburg (and Soweto) and Cape Town in South Africa.
Breaking new ground, the World New Music Days will this year be held in South Africa, making it the first WNMD festival to take place in Africa. This is a first not only for the WNMD but for South Africa, too, as no comparable new-music festival of this scale has been held in the country before.
Speaking on the unprecedented opportunity for musical exchange that this year's festival brings, Artistic Director and composer Lukas Ligeti says:
African audiences will hear music they've never been exposed to. Audiences from the rest of the world will hear music they've never been exposed to. People will meet, discuss, exchange ideas, and connections will be made in a much more direct way than would be possible 99.9% of the time. We are building new communities for a globalised world of new music.
The festival will showcase a wide variety of current trends in composition, globally, with one composition by each ISCM chapter organisation selected to be performed. This year, a panel of fifteen expert judges from Africa have selected the works to be performed, the first time in the hundred-year history of WNMD that an African panel has adjudicated.
As well as offering a global program, this year's festival will present a highly diverse and eclectic overview of new, experimental and unconventional music currently being done in, and in connection with, Africa.
This year's festival pays tribute to the outstanding legacy WNMD has built over the past one hundred years. One of the world's most important festivals for contemporary composition, the World New Music Days has been host to many of the twentieth and 21st century's landmark compositions. The festival will hold a retrospective of some of these highlights, almost none of which have been performed in Africa before.
The festival will repeat performances from the Oluzayo African Music Futures Festival, organised in the run-up to this year's WNMD. A particular highlight, Germany's leading new-music ensemble, the Ensemble Modern, will play four new commissioned works that engage with African music theories and practices in creative ways. In addition, many works and performances by African composers and musicians not included in the Oluzayo program will be presented.
In accordance with the wide variety of music presented, the festival uses a wide variety of venues across Johannesburg and Cape Town. In Johannesburg, concert venues range from the main symphonic venue, the Linder Auditorium, to artist William Kentridge's Centre for the Less Good Idea and late-night club venue the Untitled Basement. Venues in Cape Town will be similarly eclectic, ranging from the more touristy Victoria & Alfred Waterfront to the artsy Youngblood Gallery and the city's premier symphonic venue, Artscape.
As Lukas Ligeti aptly puts it, this year's festival offers 'a unique opportunity to experience a unique selection of music in a unique environment'.
Posted 6 October 2023 by Keith Bramich