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The effect of exile and cultural exchanges on music, especially jazz, will be discussed at a symposium on the Johannesburg International Mozart Festival programme.
A SYMPOSIUM highlighting the influence of exile on the South African and global music landscape, and how cultural exchanges affect musical styles, particularly jazz, will form part of the third annual Johannesburg International Mozart Festival (JIMF) programme.


Mokale Koapeng will be one of the speakers at the symposiumMokale Koapeng is one of the speakers at the symposiumWith the title, Music and Exile: Songs, Styles and Sub-texts, the symposium will be hosted at the Goethe Institut, in Parkwood, on 4 and 5 February. The JIMF will run concurrently at the Linder Auditorium, in Parktown, from 27 January to 13 February.

The symposium follows on from that held during the festival last year, which was titled Music and Exile: North-South Narratives. However, organisers say this year the emphasis will be on the role of music in exile. Scholars, performers and composers will make presentations and discuss pertinent issues about western art music, jazz, South African traditional music and pop music.

Speakers invited to lecture include Sophia Serghi, a composer from Cyprus; Mokale Koapeng, the first composer-in-residence of the JIMF; Lefifi Tladi, a composer, poet and artist; Chats Devroop, from the Tshwane University of Technology; and David Coplan, of Wits University, among others.

“Themes that will be explored are the contexts and debates in international and local exile, and the impact that cultural exchanges resulting from exile have on musical styles, particularly on jazz,” says Gilly Hemphill, the event publicist.

The symposium is held in partnership with the Goethe Institute, the German cultural organisation that promotes Germany’s cultural, social and political life and language, as well as fosters international cultural co-operation. “The symposium provides a ‘think-tank’ around topics related to the JIMF concert series and [is] intended to generate ideas and stimulate initiatives for future JIMF events. This approach strives to establish a productive dialogue between music practice and music writing and debate,” explains Hemphill.

The JIMF was established in 2006 to celebrate the 250th birthday of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and has grown into a well-loved classical music festival. Mozart is regarded as one of the most exceptional musicians of all time. He was a gifted composer, arranger, performer, conductor, teacher, writer, commentator and scholar.

“It is the ambition of the JIMF to reflect upon Mozart’s genius and ingenuity and to create a setting that might translate at least some of [his] truly inspiring characteristics into the 21st century. The music and exile symposium proceeds from this philosophy of innovation and aims to traverse the boundaries that frequently exist between different music genres, disciplines and discourses,” Hemphill notes.

There will also be a panel discussion with musicians Roger Lucey and Steve Gordon, who will talk about their time in exile.

“A full session [will be] devoted to the musical connections between South Africa and the United Kingdom, effected by South African musicians’ exile, including presentations on the South African jazz opera King Kong, and the adaptations of mbaqanga in the UK, and Stanley Glasser’s Songs of Exile,” Hemphill explains.

The symposium will also reflect on German musicians, namely the exile in Hollywood during the Second World War of best friends Hanns Eisler and writer Bertolt Brecht, and the impact of that war on the vocal compositions of Karlheinz Stockhausen.

Members of the public are invited to attend the symposium; entrance is free. To make a booking, send an email to to reserve a place.

The Johannesburg International Mozart Festival runs at the Linder Auditorium from 27 January to 13 February. Tickets are priced between R100 and R180. There is a 10 percent discount for students under 21 and pensioners over 65, and for block bookings of more than 10 people. All tickets are sold at Computicket.

To find out more about the festival programme and the symposium, log on to the Mozart festival website.

The Linder Auditorium is on the Education Campus of Wits University, St Andrew’s Road, in Parktown.

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