NewMusicSA is the South African section of the International Society for Contemporary Music (ISCM). Its formation on 10 May 1999 heralded the return of South African representation at the ISCM after many decades.
NewMusicSA supports the creation of New Music by South African composers of all stylistic and cultural backgrounds. Since 2000, the organization has held an annual festival, the New Music Indaba, which showcases contemporary South African music performed by musicians based both within the country and abroad. A central part of the festival are the ‘Growing Composers’ workshops, which provide the opportunity for emerging composers to work with established musicians and composers in a supportive environment. From 2000 to 2006, the New Music Indaba was held as part of the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown in the Eastern Cape province. From 2007 onwards the festival has been hosted by the University of South Africa (UNISA) in Pretoria/Tshwane, Gauteng. NewMusicSA also runs Unyazi, a biannual electronic music festival. Other notable achievements include The Bow Project, which commissioned numerous composers to write new pieces for string quartet based on the uhadi bow music of Nofinishi Dywili.
In recent years, NewMusicSA has provided an important link between South African art-music composers and the international contemporary art music community by means of an exchange programme with the Visby International Centre for Composers (VICC). This programme has provided residencies for numerous South African composers in Gotland, Sweden.
An important aspect of the organization’s role is to convene an annual jury to select South African works that will be considered for performance at the ISCM’s World Music Days festival. South African composers whose works have been selected for performance at the World Music Days Festival by the ISCM’s international jury in recent years include, Robert Fokkens (2009), Clare Loveday (2008) and Stefans Grové (2007). In the past the music of Bongani Ndodana-Breen, Kevin Volans, Hans Huyssen, Mokale Koapeng, Hendrik Hofmeyr, Jürgen Bräuninger has also been heard at the festival.
Since its foundation, NewMusicSA has worked with a number of other South African music and cultural organizations, such as Southern African Music Rights Organisation SAMRO, the Unisa Music Foundation and most recently the South African National Youth Orchestra to provide opportunities for emerging South African composers.
In 2008 the archive of NewMusicSA, which includes much documentary information and numerous unique music scores by South African composers was donated to the Documentation Centre for Music at the University of Stellenbosch in the Western Cape province.
Past Presidents of NewMusicSA include Michael Blake (who founded the organization), Mokale Koapeng Christopher Walton and Cameron Harris. The current President is Angie Mullins.
- Blake, M. 2007. ‘South African Composers on the World Stage: The ISCM in South Africa’ in Fontes Artis Musicae 54/3 July-September 2007. 359-73.
- Heuvelmans, H. 2000. ‘Minutes of the ISCM General Assembly 1999 in Bucharest’ in World New Music. 10. September 2001.
- Blake 2007.
- Heuvelmans 2000.