The annual showcase of cutting-edge sonic exploration has returned to the city.
In its 33rd year, the Winnipeg New Music Festival runs from January 25 through February 2, featuring unique venues, an eclectic array of musical styles and instruments, and the opportunity to hear music by up-and-coming Canadian composers and established international guest artists.
“Every year is always different,” says co-curator and Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra composer-in-residence Harabalos (Harry) Stafylakis who has been involved with the festival since his appointment in 2016.
After focusing on works inspired by science and technology last year, this iteration of the festival skews towards to the humanities.
Nature, organicity, connectedness, storytelling, mythology are all themes explored in this year’s programming, notes Stafylakis.
“The things that bind us, that connect us to each other and the world around us.”
Running for just over a week, the festival begins with a free showcase at the Centennial Concert Hall called WNMF: Launchpad.
In its sixth year, the concert is a culmination of the study done through the WNMF Composers Institute, a musical training ground for young composers through mentorship with leading professionals. This year, mentor composers include Eugene Astapov and Amy Brandon, along with Stafylakis.
The composers selected to have their pieces premiered at the 2024 Winnipeg New Music Festival and to participate in this year's WNMF Composers Institute are:
Lauren Greenberg: Bonds Of Cosmic Origins – Canadian Premiere
Willyn Whiting: Framework – World Premiere
Tom Lachance: Blizzard Sylvestre – World Premiere
Yejin Kwon: White Clad – World Premiere
Judah Williams: Cosmic Abyss – World Premiere
Also participating in the 2024 Composers Institute are the winners of the CMC Prairie Region and Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra’s Emerging Composer Competition:
Robert Humber: Warmth Comes – World Premiere
The first formal concert takes place on Saturday, January 27 and gives Winnipeg audiences the first of many opportunities to hear music of this year’s distinguished guest composer, Missy Mazzoli.
“What a coup for us,” says Stafylakis.
A Grammy-nominated composer who has earned widespread acclaim for her operas, Mazzoli served as composer-in-residence with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and has had her works performed by an extensive list of esteemed ensembles of various sizes and sounds.
“There’s elements in her music that bring together the traditions of contemporary classical music and Romanticism and minimalism,” says Stafylakis. “But also elements of indie and pop and rock and these kind of flavours that really feel like 21st-Century music. It’s exciting, it’s vibrant.”
Other highlights include: the captivating kamancheh / cello duo, Kamancello, performing in The Leaf; the return of longtime WNMF collaborators Polycoro; an evening of “dialogues” – concerti for various instruments rarely heard in the concert hall such as the guzheng and oud; and a finale that promises to put "a spotlight on the extreme and thrilling musical contrasts that the symphony orchestra is uniquely capable of.”
Find the complete list, festival passes and individual tickets at: www.wnmf.ca