Symposium and Workshop: South African Opera Productions after the Apartheid

Venue: Universität Bayreuth

Date:   18th– 19th October 2018

Call for Papers:

Deadline: 15th August 2018

With the end of the Apartheid era, opera – stigmatized as ‘eurocentric opera’ – became a symbol of Western dominance/colonial imposition and seemed to be dead in South Africa.

But in fact, especially the so called ‘indigenous opera’ ‘flourishes’ as something of an anachronism and can be assessed as ‘black empowerment’ (Naomi André 2018).

The writing of a historiography of opera productions in South Africa although has academically just shortly started (Donato Somma 2016; Hilde Roos 2013, 2010; Martina Viljoen 2006) and is confronted with problems of different natures: political structures, post-colonization, globalization, unstable artistic standards and institutional relations.

The ‘bloom’ of opera presents itself neither through regular performances nor through crowded theatre halls. This is a consequence of the difficult political relations of artistic production in South Africa, which are among others characterized by a lack of funding and the re-organization of the Performing Arts Councils/ National Arts Councils. The existing significant multiple theatricalities of South Africa are thereby not having a platform to present themselves. The market pressure results often in overseas productions financing the few performances in the country itself. Thereby putting itself on risk to confirm with their opera productions transferred expectations of a South African identity rather than expressing an ‘authentic’ one.

This symposium will focus on South African Opera productions. Thereby the aim of the symposium is to represent the plurality of artistic concepts that deal in different ways with the multiple challenges of political and social transformation. How can opera in South Africa be involved in the process of societal transformation in a post-apartheid society? Which new artistic concepts are needed? How does themes for the libretti change? How did language, the style of composition and orchestration transform? Which new locations for performances are found to involve new audiences? How did the aesthetics change? And how are new media used either for a new aesthetic of performances, as with e.g. ‘Lamento’ (Umculo) or ‘U-Carmen eKhayelitsha’ (Isango Ensemble), or for marketing purposes?

For the first day of the symposium presentations shall focus on one opera productions. To ‘map’ the plurality of the field presentations are invited that cover one of the following topics.

  1. South African opera productions
  • Operas of different opera companies and composers
  • Different locations of opera performances (opera house, township, film)
  • Aesthetics of the opera opus itself
  • Analysis of compositions, libretti & performances

With Prof. Dr. Naomi André (University Michigan, USA), Dr. Donato Somma (University of Witwatersrand, SA) and Dr. Lena van der Hoven (among others) some experts in the field are invited. They will present on ‘Winnie – The Opera’ (Bongani Ndodana-Breen), ‘Princess Magogo’ (Opera Africa, Mzilikazi Khumalo), ‘Heart of Redness’ (Cape Town Opera, Neo Muyanga) and ‘Romeo’s Passion’ (Umculo, Cathy Milliken).

The workshop on the second day will cover transformation processes of Opera production in South Africa focusing on the following topics:

  • Opera institutions & opera companies
  • Finances/ Funding
  • Audiences
  • Marketing
  • Political impact

Abstracts (max. 2000 characters) for 20 minutes papers along with the technical requirements for the talk and a short CV with contact details should be sent by 15th August 2018 to Lena van der Hoven (Lena.van-der-Hoven@uni-bayreuth.de). Contributions from both the humanities and social sciences are welcome (Musicology, Theatre Studies, History, Cultural Studies, Sociology). Early career researchers in particular are encouraged to contribute. The chosen speakers will be informed by 31th August 2018 and the conference programme published online at http://www.prof-musikwissenschaft.uni-bayreuth.de/de/index.html .

 

 

Sounds Between: a one-day festival exploring interdisciplinary encounters in music composition

Wednesday 7th December PATS Studio 1 and Ivy Arts Centre, University of Surrey, 10.15 – 9pm. Tickets are free but advance booking is recommended http://www.surrey.ac.uk/arts/music/sounds-between

’Sounds Between’ focuses on the places where music and other disciplines interact. Four specially commissioned works from squib-box, Jamie Hamliton/Dom Czapski, Jan Lee and Rodrigo Camacho/Sara Rodriguez explore a broad terrain of ideas: the perception of meaning and mass media, the strange attractions of digital avatars, how dancers become musicians in order to ‘play’ a space, and the formation of cultural identity in London’s Hatcham (New Cross).

Surrounding these premieres are contributions from leading artists, researchers and industry figures: Susanna Eastburn (Chief Executive of Sound and Music) leads a panel discussion on drivers and obstacles to interdisciplinary work in music composition, Jason Freeman shows how online networks can enable realtime, participatory music making, and Matteo Fargion and Jonathan Burrows perform work from their extensive back catalogue of sound/movement pieces. A workshop from Michael Picknett exploring theatrical devising techniques in composition and an installation by Scott Mc Laughlin (as well as plenty of opportunities for networking) complete the day.

‘Sounds Between’ is presented by Music Composition as Interdisciplinary Practice. MCIP is an AHRC-funded research network of artists, artistic researchers and scholars. Over the past year we have been commissioning, sharing and reflecting on music composition as a nexus of different disciplines. We have held a one-day seminar at Oxford Brookes University and a two-day symposium at the University of York. Through these events and through artists’ documentation of the commissioned pieces we have looked for insights into how such approaches to composition reflect different kinds of interdisciplinarity, how interdisciplinarity is facilitated ‘on the ground’ and how understandings of creativity might contribute to and be re-evaluated by the study of such work. ‘Sounds Between’ brings the practice that has underpinned the network into wider public view. The diversity within the programme reflects the phenomenon we are studying; it will appeal to those interested in experimental music, performance, multimedia, installation, dance and theatre practices, or simply curious to hear and see a snapshot of composers working between disciplines today.