ISCM World New Music in South Africa

December 1, 2023
Johannesburg, Cape Town

NewMusicSA is set to host the 2023 ISCM World New Music Days (WNMD) festival in South Africa, marking the 100th-anniversary edition of this historic celebration of music and creativity. This monumental event will be an unprecedented, historical milestone event for multiple reasons. First, it will be the ISCM’s centenary celebration and centennial edition of the festival. It will be the first WNMD ever to take place in Africa, the third time this festival is held in the southern hemisphere and the third time it takes place in a country of the Global South. No festival for new, innovative and experimental music of this breadth and magnitude has ever been organized on the African continent. The WNMD 2023 will be a defining moment for contemporary music in South Africa and the rest of the continent.

This 10-day extravaganza will bring together over 100 composers from 50 countries, making it a global hub for new ideas, collaborations, and artistic fusions. With more than 70 groundbreaking new music compositions performed by an impressive line-up of over 200 musicians across 25+ events, WNMD 2023 will be the most significant assembly of contemporary music ever witnessed on the African continent.

The ISCM World New Music Days 2023 festival will grace Gauteng and the Western Cape in South Africa, with events in Johannesburg, Soweto, Cape Town, and the surrounding areas. In partnership with the German group Ensemble Modern and ISCM WNMD educational partners, including MIAGI – Music is a Great Investment and Morris Isaacson Music Centre, the festival’s community outreach efforts will include rehearsals, workshops, masterclasses, and public performances.

This unique festival will showcase a rich tapestry of new music compositions, both from South Africa and the international stage. As Lukas Ligeti, Artistic Director of the festival, expressively puts it: “There are three programmatic pillars to the festival. The first upholds the fundamental principle of ISCM World New Music Days, ensuring that at least one composition from each chapter organization is performed. The second pillar pays tribute to the festival’s historical significance by revisiting some of the landmark works of the 20th and 21st centuries presented at previous editions. Lastly, the third pillar highlights the festival’s distinctiveness by presenting a diverse and eclectic selection of new, experimental, and unconventional music from Africa south of the Sahara.” A dedicated special program named Oluzayo – African Music Futures will feature futuristic African music curated by a team of programmers from Kenya, South Africa, Germany, Spain, Austria, and the USA.

Among the confirmed artistic highlights are some of today’s most renowned composers and musicians, with the festival featuring, among others, Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra, Odeion String Quartet, Coastal Brass Collective, Victor Gama (Angola), Kadilida & Jay Mitta (Tanzania), Burkina Electric (Burkina Faso), Ensemble Modern (Germany), Umze Ensemble (Hungary), Passepartout Duo (Italy/US), Akartia Trio & Casado-Croccolino Duo (Spain), Vertixe Sonora ensemble (Spain), and many more.