Listening To Art Music In Contemporary South Africa Is Included In The Value of Ambiguity
Listening To Art Music In Contemporary South Africa Is Included In The Value of Ambiguity

How should you consider classical music in 2018 in South Africa? And what area do the founders of such functions occupy on the nation’s cultural landscape? For me personally, these concerns were motivated through the current world premiere performances of three brand new piano works by Graham Newcater.

Newcater was the founder of strong apartheid-era high-tech musical functions. He disappeared from public awareness throughout the 1990s first decade of this new century — a confluence at the ending of an era through which the South African authorities affirmed Western art music along with his personal withdrawal from society. Since 2011 Newcater was writing new piano music (10 functions in most) in a burst of creative energy.

On 25 January the Africa Open Institute of Stellenbosch University introduced an occasion entitled “Sapphires and Serpents” at the Stellenbosch University Museum containing a number of Newcater’s newest functions. A brief movie by Aryan Kagan of concerning the composer was also revealed. Despite his delicate health, the 76-year-old Newcater went from Johannesburg to attend.

I wondered exactly what the functionality of staging his songs in 2018 informs us about the state and practices of these audio in South Africa now? 24 years following the conclusion of apartheid, this is a remarkable occasion to point. That is because it appeared so indifferent to modern calls for decoloniality in South African universities.

Relentless Consistency

The latter was founded on NP van Wyk Louw’s legendary drama (1941) which enduringly occupied the middle of the Afrikaner literary venture and creativity.

In a recent dialogue Newcater revealed he thought himself as a part of this anti-establishment, innovative “Sestigers” cultural motion.

In an unpublished 2008 interview I did with him, Newcater explained his compositional strategy as you informed by technology:

It is a matter of balance, ratio, strains and pressures, energy and its own tapping to make electricity. All of these are engineering fundamentals.

He’s not taken seriously musical improvements past the first half of the twentieth century.

Newcater has dismissed (and has maybe been ignorant of) much of popular songs, jazz, world music and improvements in modern composition. These include complete serialism, minimalism, the New Simplicity, opportunity , post-tonality, and several other creative paths explored by composers because Schoenberg’s 12-tone music.

The 12-tone system is chiefly connected with work generated through the first half of the twentieth century. It entailed an equivalent treatment of all 12 pitches of this tempered musical scale. This indicated a radical democratisation of pitch connections.

Newcater found it as a teen whilst listening to the Berg Violin Concerto.

Newcater has persisted in 12-tone songs, the sole real way to musical composition which makes sense. He’s presently making work that’s interesting just because the audio isn’t demonstrably crucial in present political, academic and economic contexts.

The avant-gardist ideology of 12-tone audio was jeopardized by the dazzling collection of alternative possibilities permitted by the technological advances of the time.

Within this circumstance, the music’s refusal to coerce production into rationale is a sovereign position where Newcater is producing strong artwork. Therefore it disturbs South Africans to consider aesthetic continuities of both colonialism and apartheid in art types outside apartheid.

Compellingly, it’s the constant consequences of Newcater’s strategy that gives it the ethics that needs a hearing in modern South Africa.

Intersection of Two Distinct Eras

It’s notable that the staging of the performance occurred under the auspices of an initiative devoted to transformation in music research at Stellenbosch University — the Africa Open Institute.

The way to read this kind of event and its significance is far from apparent. While it had been done under the auspices of this institute, the operation had echoes of yesteryear using a largely white crowd in memorial environment. On the 1 side an occasion was enacted redolent with apartheid-era allegiances.

However was that the magician’s support for songs and actors who struggle Western concert conventions in South Africa, which resulted in its participation within an non-traditional concert area using Newcater, the pianist Mareli Stolp along with also the filmmaker Aryan Kaganof.

Performing such songs in South Africa now, it indicates is ideologically ambiguous. And within this ambiguity, there’s much intellectual and artistic interest.