Monthly Archives: June 2013



OSMNMW 2013ensemble_trans_z_collage


17 – 20 July 2013

“Celebrating the music of our times”

Odeion School of Music (OSM)

University of the Free State


After the success of the first New Music weekend, Stefans Grove 90 (in collaboration with the ATKV, the Akademie vir Wetenskap en Kuns and DOMUS – Documentation Centre for Music, University of Stellenbosch) presented last year, the OSM Council identified the need for the development and exposure of New Music as a feasible niche within the larger strategy of the OSM. It was decided to include a yearly OSM NEW MUSIC WEEK on the concert calendar. It was exactly within this context that the OSM NEW MUSIC INITIATIVE was founded.

The designated composer for the OSM NEW MUSIC WEEK 2013, is OSM alumnus, Alfred Vorster  (residing in Zurich, Switzerland).Vorster will be accompanied by Ensemble Trans.Z of which he is the artistic director.

Alfred Vorster has   a delightful, spontaneous and natural relationship to and with the art of composition.   He creates immense and dimensional musical gestures within a swift pace,   while simultaneously searching to continuously broaden his own musical   horizons and finding new possibilities.


Felix Baumann – Director of composition and theory at   the Conservatory of the Zürich University of the Arts

Ensemble Trans.Z is a New Music ensemble with a strong multi-disciplinary approach. The application and integration of various artistic and non-artistic disciplines (e.g. science and arts) form the core of the performance process. The aim thereof is to encourage the audience to transcend the traditional concert setting. From the 17th to the 20th of July 2013 concertgoers and students will have the honour to explore and experience the endless possibilities provided by 21st century artistic practice, consisting of workshops, lectures, master classes and concerts.

The members of Ensemble Trans.Z are young experts (each with an impressive professional and artistic background), hailing from diverse cultural backgrounds.

  • Alfred Vorster (artistic director & composer) South Africa
  • Juan Maria Braceras  (violin) Argentina
  • Lukas Huisman (piano) Belgium
  • Danré Strydom (clarinet) South Africa
  • Karolina Öhman (cello) Sweden

Some members come from countries where New Music and contemporary arts receives high appreciation, priority and support from the public sector and concert audience, while other members come from societies where the contemporary arts are being met with ignorance and limited support. It is our objectives to nurture and foster such imbalances within the artistic hierarchies by celebrating and emphasizing the importance of New Music and contemporary art.

The newly founded New Music Ensemble from the NWU School of Music under the artistic direction of Augusto Arias has also been invited to participate during the 2013 OSM New Music Week. The ensemble will perform works by Finnish composer, Kaija Saariaho, Luciano Berio as well as Arias.  NWU composer in residence, Dr Hannes Taljaard will participate in the lecture series with an analysis and embodied interpretation of some of his compositions. His lecture is entitled Compose-Understand-Listen.

The OSM Camerata (OSMC) is the flagship ensemble of the OSM. The main objective of this ensemble is to kindle the talents of exceptionally gifted musicians and pursuing the highest artistic standards possible. The OSMC has been invited to participate in the 13th International Conservatoire Festival to be hosted by the Rimsky Korsakov Conservatoire in St. Petersburg, (Russia) towards the end of 2013.

The artistic director and chief conductor for 2013 is maestro Jan Moritz Onken described by Pierre Boulez as “an exceptional talent”.  Onken was until recently employed at the Mariinsky Theatre (artistic director Valery Gergiev) as coach for German opera. .




(OSM International Masterclass Series No.10)

17 July (10:00 – 11:30)

Presented simultaneously various OSM venues  

 Lukas Huisman (piano)

Juan Maria Braceras (violin)

Danré Strydom (clarinet)

Karolina Öhman (cello)

Karol Legierski (violin)

Marianne Cilliers (violin)


Musical Complexity and Human Boundaries (musicological)

17 July (14:10 – 16:00)

OSM Lecture Room 6

A lecture presented by Lukas Huisman on the piano music of composers associated with musical complexity such as Brian Ferneyhough, Iannis Xenakis, Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji, Karlheinz Stockhausen and Michael Finnissy.

New Music and Beyond (theoretical)

18 July (14:10 – 16:00)

OSM Choir Room

An analytical lecture presented by Alfred Vorster on New Music in general; its language and functionality applying Ensemble Trans.Z’s performance programme. 

Sound in Motion (performance)

Presented by Ensemble Trans.Z

19 July (11:00 – 13:00)

Various OSM venues

This music improvisation workshop is presented as a sound track for a silent film. The objective is an attempt to educate students about the technical and musical concepts related to New Music by means of free composition and mapped improvisation.  Each member of Ensemble Trans.Z will be assigned to a group of students according to their instrument of choice. Given a certain amount of time to learn and practice the techniques taught, students will have the opportunity to create a sound track for a short silent film. 

Compose – Understand – Listen

(Ways in which I try to make sense of what I am doing)

20 July (11:00 – 13:00)

OSM Choir Room

A lecture presented by composer  Dr Hannes Taljaard of the NWU School of Music.


Gala Concert I

Ensemble Trans.Z

19 July


Venue: Odeion

A bouquet of 20th and 21st century music will ensure a thought-provoking and stimulating evening.  The audience will be encouraged to experience New Music presented within a multi-sensory context. The programme will include music by Helmuth Lachenmann, Jörg Widmann, Isabel Mundry, Peter Klatzow, Alfred Vorster, Christian Wolf, Michael Jarrell and Anton Webern.    

Gala Concert II

OSM Camerata under the baton of Jan Moritz Onken

Odeion String Quartet and Ensemble Trans.Z

New Music Ensemble (NWU School of Music) under the baton of Augusto Arias

20 July


Venue: Odeion

This programme will include music by Berio,Saariaho,Vorster, Hofmeyr and Pärt

Liturgical Performance

Choir of Christ church Arcadia, Pretoria under the artistic direction of George King

21 July


Venue: Anglican Cathedral St. Andrew & St Michael

Choir of Christ church Arcadia, Pretoria

Missa Brevis,James Mac Millan 

Who is Ensemble Trans.Z ?

Alfred Vorster (artistic director and composer)

Vorster was born in Bloemfontein in 1983 and was drawn to music from a very early age. Although he studied piano and oboe at advanced levels, it was composition that came to serve as the cornerstone for his musical expression. After completing his undergraduate music studies at the then Department of Music (UFS), the artistic, social and political controversies and restrictions that confronted him created an impetus to relocate to Europe. Since 2007 Vorster resided in Zurich (Switzerland) and successfully completed a Master’s Degree in Composition and Theory at the Music Conservatoire of the Zurich University of the Arts under the guidance of Bruno Karrer and Isabel Mundry.

Why is New Music important?

“In some instances, New Music has been stigmatized as being inaccessible and/or overtly intellectual, which can easily create the illusion that it is meant for the elitist few. Although to the untrained ear this conception might have a sense of truth to it. It is only when we observe the development of music in context of the great masters of Western Art Music that we realize this conception is as old as music itself.  As a composer this inspires me to believe that music from our times should not be treated any differently than that of the past 500 years, but rather be understood and appreciated as a sonic representation of the times we live in.”   Alfred Vorster

Juan Maria Braceras (violin

Born in Rauch, Buenos Aires,( Argentina), Braceras started studying the violin in Natal (Brazil), with Osvaldo D´Amore according to the Suzuki method. From 2002 he furthered his studies with Drs Rucker Bezerra and Alexandre Casado at the Escola de Música da Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Norte. In 2009 he graduated from the Conservatoire de Musique de Genève where he received the Diplôme de Bachelor cum laude under the tutelage of Margarita Piguet-Karafilova. He also studied under Stuller at the HEMU of Lausanne and since 2012 he is studying for a Master of Arts specialising in Music Performance under the auspices of Adelina Oprean at the Basel Music Conservatory. Braceras has attended masterclasses with Alberto Lysy, Pavel Vernikov, Sidney Hart and Ana Chumachenco.

He has performed as a soloist in several orchestras in Brazil, where he was finalist and winner of the national competition for young talents of the Concurso Nacional Jovens, the Solistas Eleazar de Carvalho, Concurso Nacional Jovens Solistas da OSBA, as well as the Concurso Petrobrás Pró-Música.  Braceras performed as chamber and orchestral musician throughout Europe, (Austria, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Spain, Switzerland), Asia (China, Oman) and South America (Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, etc.)

He participated as soloist in different festivals like Academia Internazionale di Portogruaro, Festival de Musique de Verbier, Festival de Música de Jaraguá do Sul, Festival de Música de Campos do Jordao, Festival de Murten. In 2010 he had the opportunity to participate in several concerts with the Verbier Festival Chamber Orchestra. He regularly performs with the Orchestre Internationale de Genève, Swiss Virtuoso Chamber Orchestre, Orchestre du Festival de Bellerive, Weinberger Kammerorchester and Camerata Venia.

Braceras has a special interest in Latin-American music, and is one of the founding members of the Camerata Candela, an orchestra devoted to the interpretation of composers not well-known in Europe.

                                                                 Why is New Music important?

Music within itself simulates humanist values and should kindle better understanding and empathy for the human being and general society. The power to expand and develop new points of view is always enriching for all of us. Contemporary music often brings not only new forms of language but also requires new ways of listening”. Juan Maria Braceras

Lukas Huisman (piano)

Lukas Huisman (1987) started his piano career with private tuition under the tutelage of Sofie Schietecatte. Afterwards he enrolled at the Ghent Music Academy where he studied with Rolande Spanoghe, and graduated with distinction. He was a student of Daan Vandewalle at the Ghent Faculty of Music where he also graduated with distinction. He received the Exceptional prize De Blonde-Torck as “most deserving student” and followed masterclasses with Jonathan Powell, Geoffrey-Douglas Madge, Ciro Longobardi, Daniel Rivera and Carlo Mazzoli.

In February 2012 he started an artistic doctoral project at the School of Arts Ghent, relating to contemporary complex solo piano music. Lukas mainly performs contemporary music, with particular attention to the lesser-known composer, Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji. This has brought him into contact with various performers of Sorabji’s work and he has worked on several international projects, aimed at making the manuscripts of this less-performed composer more accessible. This has  resulted in the publication of such scores as 100 Transcendental Studies, 104 Frammenti Aforistici, Opus Secretum, 4 Frammenti Aforistici.

He took for five years algorithmic composition classes with Godfried-Willem Raes.In 2011 he was requested to write the Trefpunt composition assignment which was played as part of the concert series Gentse Vleugels at the music and theatre festival Gentse Feesten.

Why is New Music important?

Contemporary music has the potential to reflect the essence of the world we are living in. It is thoroughly rooted within our sociological reality and continuously challenges us in many respects.

 Whereas older music – “the repertoire” – can tell us something about the past, contemporary music can tell us something about the present. It can transfer the essence of our diversity, and through recognition we can learn to understand each other in a more profound way. Isn’t it art (and science) in the first place that can bring us together?” Lukas Huisman

Danré Strydom (clarinet)

South African born clarinettist, Danré Strydom, started music tuition at a very early age. She joined her first clarinet teacher, Jenny Truter Brand in the Namibia National Symphony Orchestra as second clarinettist at age 15. During high school she won numerous awards and scholarships, including the R. Muller award for highest achievement in music and academics, the First National Bank Prize of Excellence and various College for the Arts Best Student Awards. After completing high school she started her studies at the University of the Free State under the guidance of Heinrich Armer.  She completed BMus and BMusHons degrees (cum laude).

While completing her studies here, she was principal clarinettist of the Free State Youth orchestra, the Odeion Chamber Orchestra, the Free State Chinese Orchestra and second clarinettist of the Free State Symphony Orchestra. She was selected as the leader of the South African Youth Wind Orchestra which took part in the WASBE Conference (South Africa). She had the honour of working with some of South Africa’s best conductors and also various internationally known conductors such as Lazlo Marosi, Christopher Bell, Jeremy Silver and Jon Robertson. The FAK music award, ATKV cultural diversity award, Old Presidency award and an invitation to attend the Clifford Benson Summer academy in the UK are some of the awards she received during her years in Bloemfontein.

On completion of her studies in Bloemfontein, she was accepted as a student of Eli Eban at the Jacobs School of Music, Indiana University (USA) where she completed a solo diploma (cum laude). At this prestigious institution she had the opportunity to take classes with Howard Klug, James Campbell, Michael McCraw, Reiko Neriki and Csaba Onczay. She attended masterclasses, with Alfred Prinz (retired principal clarinettist of the Vienna Philharmonic) and Eddy Vanoosthuyse (solo clarinettist – Brussels Philharmonic). It was during one of these master classes where she met Eddy Vanoosthuyse and decided to continue her post-graduate studies under his tuition. She is currently completing her master’s degree and playing Ad Hoc for the Brussels Philharmonic Orchestra.

Danré is not only a very enthusiastic orchestral player, but also very active as a chamber musician. She has performed as soloist with several orchestras including the Namibia National Symphony, Free State Symphony and as a concerto winner with the Kwa Zulu Natal Philharmonic Orchestra.


Why is New Music important?

“It is a known fact that music is one of the most fundamental channels of communication. It provides a resource by which people are able to share their disposition, emotions and intent. Even though the world is becoming more of a global village every day, spoken language are more than often incomprehensible and it seems that we are largely missing the point of the importance of New Music and its relevance in current society. The term “New Music” should not be a label that scares listeners and instrumentalists, but rather be something that motivates them to learn a ‘new language’.  Attraction to modern music is commonly based on an intellectual understanding and appreciation of the tenacity within the music. Thus, the importance of teaching and learning New Music can’t be emphasised enough.” Danré Strydom

Karolina Öhman (cello)

The Swedish cellist Karolina Öhman performs internationally as a specialised interpreter of contemporary music and she has the desire to attract audiences to new experiences in music of this genre. She has premiered numerous solo and chamber music works in places such as the Queen Elisabeth Hall, London, Tonhalle Zürich, Archipel Festival Geneva, Société de Musique Contemporaine Lausanne and Festival Extension Paris. She has appeared as a soloist with orchestras such as the Basel Symphony Orchestra and the Ensemble Namascae in Lausanne, performing cello concertos by Henri Dutilleux, Luciano Berio and Dieter Ammann among others. Karolina is a member of the Curious Chamber Players (Stockholm) since 2012 and has played as a guest with several contemporary music ensembles, including Ensemble Intercontemporaine (Paris), Ensemble Phoenix (Basel), the Collegium Novum (Zürich), and ensemble SCENATET, Copenhagen.

Karolina studied with Torleif Thedéen, Thomas Demenga and Thomas Grossenbacher and graduated with both a soloist diploma and a specialised Masters in contemporary music. In 2010 Karolina received an interpretation prize from the “Internationale Ferienkurse für Neue Musik” in Darmstadt, and in 2009 she became a Prizewinner at the Domnick contemporary music cello competition. She has received several scholarships from foundations in both Sweden and Switzerland, including Pierino Ambrosoli Foundation and Ernst Göhner Stiftung, and in 2010 she became a beneficiary of the Concert Promotion Migros in Zürich.

Why is New Music important?

“I feel it’s vital to perform and promote living composers’ music, otherwise this exciting new written repertoire will get lost. For me nothing can compare to the “here and now” interaction between composer and interpreter, where innovative ideas are developed, questions are asked, and important musical and artistic ideas are tried out.

I think there is a huge demand to hear new music and experience new sound worlds. Contemporary music is extremely diverse and interesting from all musical aspects. But it is not performed often enough, so lots of concert audiences around the world are not aware of the diversity of contemporary music, simply because they have not had the chance to experience it, and I think that is a great shame! I am convinced that contemporary music is an experience that every person can enjoy, and I very much want to be a part of welcoming new listeners into the fascinating world of new music! It will be a great opportunity to do this in a country like South Africa where this music is not so often played.” Karolina Öhman

Master Classes 17th July 10h00-11h30

Lukas Huisman (piano)

10:00 – 11:30: Master class Session 1 & 2: Piano (Room 10)

Danré Strydom (clarinet)

10:00 – 11:30: Master class Session 1 & 2: Clarinet (Room 126)

Juan Maria Braceras (violin)

10:00 – 11:30: Master class Session 1 & 2: Violin (Room 3 Haller Halle)

Karolina Öhman (cello)

10:00 – 11:30: Master class Session 1 & 2: Cello (Room 222)

Karol Legierski (violin)

10:00 – 11:30: Master class Session 1 & 2: Violin (Choir Room)

Marianne Cilliers (violin)

10:00 – 11:30: Master class Session 1 & 2: Violin (Choir Room)

To stimulate awareness and appreciation of contemporary art music within the OSM, Bloemfontein and South Africa in a larger context

To advocate, introduce and include new music within repertoire selections of individuals and ensembles within the OSM

To facilitate and initiate concerts, symposia, colloquia and advocate research focusing on diverse elements of contemporary art music

To make information available on all aspects of contemporary composition and invest in sheet music and audio recordings by contemporary composers locally and internationally

To encourage the development of South African composers’ works and commission at least one new work by a South African composer on a yearly basis.

To collaborate closely with organisations like NEW MUSIC SA, SAMRO and DOMUS advocating and facilitating the patronage of contemporary music in South Africa


Electronic Music in South Africa

A Very Short Overview of Electronic Music in South Africa, or
“How we got into electronic music, and how not to get out again”

Presented by Michael Blake at the Opening of ‘Concert To’
Sasol Museum, Stellenbosch, 25 May 2013

1. More than a century ago Thaddeus Cahill invented an electrical device for producing sound. In 1906 he brought the first electronic music, via his 200 ton Telharmonium which generated sounds from dynamos, before the public, transmitting them over telephone wires to citizens of New York. Busoni, in his classic essay Sketch of a New Esthetic of Music written in 1911, was clearly struck by this:

“[Thaddeus Cahill] has constructed a comprehensive apparatus which makes it possible to transform an electric current into a fixed and mathematically exact number of vibrations…the infinite gradation of the octave may be accomplished…Only a long and careful series of experiments, and a continued training of the ear, can render this unfamiliar material approachable and plastic for the coming generation, and for Art.

And what a vista of fair hopes and dreamlike fancies is thus opened for both! Who has not dreamt that he could float on air? And firmly believed his dream to be reality? Let us take thought, how music may be restored to its primitive, natural essence; let us free it from architectonic, acoustic and esthetic dogmas; let it be pure invention and sentiment, in harmonies, in forms, in tone-colours (for invention and sentiment are not the prerogative of melody alone); let it follow the line of the rainbow and vie with the clouds in breaking sunbeams…”

2. That was the 1900s.

  • Then in 1915 came Lee de Forest’s invention the valve oscillator, making it possible to produce pitched tones from electrical signals.
  • Since then we’ve had the Futurists intonarumori, in the 1920s instruments like the theremin, ondes martenot and trautonium, later electronic organs, and both analogue and digital synthesisers.
  • In the 1920s Varese believed “the natural extension of avant-garde music was into the use of electronics” and called for new instruments, acknowledging that “the composer and the electrician will have to labor together”.
  • 1939-42: Cage’s Imaginary Landscapes manipulated sounds on gramophone records using variable-speed turntables, which made him the first turntablist.
  • In 1935 the tape recorder was invented and was widely available by the 1950s.
  • In 1948 musique concrète, the forerunner of sampling, was developed at the Pierre Schaeffer studio in Paris. The major European composers of the day – Boulez, Stockhausen, Messiaen – worked there.
  • In the1950s Stockhausen took musique concrète as a point of departure and invented the new medium elektronische musik at the WDR studio in Cologne, utilising equipment such as oscillators left behind after World War 2 by American intelligence.
  • In the late 1940s the Columbia Studio in New York was established by Otto Luening, and the BBC Radiophonic Workshop was set up in London as a resource for radio productions, but was soon sought after by composers wanting to explore electronic music.
  • 1952: Cage’s Williams Mix used magnetic recordings as sound sources.
  • 1954: Varèse was the first to compose an orchestral work with electronic interpolations – Desérts – which caused an uproar along the lines of Le Sacre in 1913, but by 1948 Varèse’s Poéme Electronique, in the Phillips Pavilion at Brussels World Fair, had general acceptance.
  • Xenakis, who had worked with Varèse on the Phillips Pavilion, went on to develop his UPIC system which he completed in 1977 – used alike by composers as diverse as Jean-Claude Risset and Aphex Twin.
  • IRCAM, the brainchild of Boulez, opened in Paris in 1977.
  • Berio set up Tempo Reale in Italy in 1987, and so on and so on.
  • More at the margins – a bit like us here – Percy Grainger built his Free Music Machines in the 1950s, and one of the earliest electronic music experiments at the other end of our continent occurred in Egypt – Halim El-Dabh’s Wire Recorder Piece in 1944 – probably the first piece of musique concrète.
  • Since the 1970s we’ve had anything from electronic dance music to remixing, and the PC has brought a studio onto every composer’s desk.

The issues that arose in these early days in Europe and the USA, that is whether this “was music or not”, whether non-musical sounds could be admitted into composition, are really quite passé in most quarters – though maybe not in the Conserve yet.

3. A few key moments in South African electronic music: Stephanus Muller wrote in Die Burger in 2004: “Daar is ‘n beskeie en verbasend subversiewe geskiedenis van elektroniese musiek in Suid Afrika.” And he mentions Roelof Temmingh’s Selle (1980) as an example. If only… More importantly, Stockhausen visited South Africa in 1971, giving electronic music composition a bit of a kick-start. At Wits University June Schneider created electronic scores and multimedia works in the early 1970s, and the University of Natal, as it was then, established the first electronic music studio, which has been directed by a series of distinguished electronic composers – Ulrich Suesse, Gerald LaPierre, Jürgen Bräuninger. Theo Herbst played a key role in establishing a studio at Stellenbosch, and is now doing the same at UCT.

The rogue apartheid state saw a steady trickle of new electronic works, some of it acceptable, some of it poor, most of it ‘apartheid kitsch’. In 1958 Dutch composer (and rehabilitated Nazi collaborator) Henk Badings had been invited to contribute to the apartheid project with a radio opera Asterion, made in the studios of the SABC in collaboration NP van Wyk Louw. Away from all this Kevin Volans made several tape pieces in the WDR studio, using sounds recorded in KZN and Lesotho, as part of his series of African Paraphrases.

Post-apartheid we began to see a democratisation of resources and genres and in the 21st century electronic music has made good advances in this country. The blurring of disciplines with sound artists working in the electronic medium has contributed to that. As president of NewMusicSA I encouraged the establishment of the Unyazi festival in 2005 – an international event with composers and performers from around the world. So far festivals have taken place in Johannesburg (curated by Dimitri Voudouris), Cape Town/Stellenbosch (curated by James Webb) and Durban (curated by Jürgen Bräuninger).

The electronic medium seems such an obvious and natural platform for young creative musicians in South Africa, especially given the difficulties of getting music performed here. I’d like to suggest at least three reasons: so many people own or have access to laptops, so much software can be downloaded freely, and it is the medium where so-called popular and serious genres easily crossover. Stravinsky and Satie’s radical idea of mixing highbrow and lowbrow has come to inspire another generation of composers.

4. So today we are here for the opening of Concert To. I won’t say much about it because we’ll be hearing it in its entirety shortly. But I’d like to congratulate my good friend Pierre-Henri Wicomb, one of the brightest lights in South African composition that I’ve had the privilege to meet in recent years, on curating an excellent landmark project which I think will have repercusssions for some time to come, and – very importantly – in the spirit of the medium itself, for making it immediately available on CD, so you can buy a copy and continue to engage with it in your home.

5. I’d like to end by telling you about what is for me one of the most unique and thrilling examples of a relevant electronic music community – Cuba. I was fortunate to visit the country in 2008 to give the first performance of my own Ways to put in the salt for piano and tape, and to give a presentation on the Bow Project. Spring in Havana was established in 1981 by a visionary Cuban composer Juan Blanco, and continues to be directed by his son Enmanuel and an enthusiastic team of composers, musicians and support staff. The festival goes on every two years, in some of the most difficult economic conditions, but they have never missed one. They get very little money from the state, they put on two concerts a day for a week, and self-funded composers and performers come from around the world to be part of it.

Their headquarters, which I visited after the festival, is in a tiny house way out in the suburbs of Havana – there is a tiny admin office, a tiny studio with some very old apple macs, and a tiny room for lectures and classes. Before I’d opened my mouth on the first day, I was asked to curate a concert of South Africa electronic music at a future festival. That hasn’t happened yet because we haven’t found the resources here, but I think on the evidence of today’s concert, the three Unyazi festivals, and several other creative endeavours in South Africa, we wouldn’t have any trouble compiling half a dozen South African programmes.

But back to the present, and Concert To.

(Posted on behalf of Michael Blake)

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