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Organizers reflect on the launch of this year’s Winnipeg New Music Festival

The Winnipeg New Music Festival is back for another season this year, with organizers saying it serves the need to draw the community together.

The festival, which kicked off with a launchpad for composers and artists on Jan. 25, is set to run until Feb. 2. The first concert for the year will take place on Saturday, with works from American composer Missy Mazzoli.

In a release on Friday, the festival said the concerts feature the full Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, with performances that “break out of the more traditional ‘classical’ mould of 18th and 19th-century works, and to explore the new and exciting in the world of art music….” The festival reads the release is dedicated to contemporary art music.

With events being displayed at the Centennial Concert Hall, concerts will also take place at venues like The Leaf and the Knox United Church.

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American composer Missy Mazzoli is one of the guest composers at this year’s Winnipeg New Music Festival. Her first concert will take place on Jan. 27, 2024, at the Centennial Concert Hall. Talha Hashmani / Global News

Speaking to Global News, the festival’s co-curator, Haralabos Stafylakis, said that even though there is a diversity in the style of music that will be played, there is also a sense of familiarity to it.

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“Fans of older music or established repertoire will find familiar sounds or familiar themes. But there’s is so much plurality and diversity of style that’s emerged in the last hundred years, and especially in the last 20 years, coming from all over the world. And we’re going to do our best to provide sampling from across the world,” Stafylakis said.

“Thirty-three years in, we do what we can to present the most cutting edge and interesting and varied styles of art music… stuff that’s really pushing the boundaries but also engaging with classical art music tradition.”

As the composer in-residence at the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, Stafylakis said he’s grown up with music. He noted it was one of his primary languages, to know and understand music.

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“I couldn’t explain it much further than it’s deeply embedded in me and it’s hard to escape it even if I tried,” he said.

With this year’s festival, he said having Mizzy Mazzoli goes back to what the festival is known for and that is “punching above its weight.” Another composer is Julia Wolfe, who’s concert will take place on the festival’s last day.

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Cluster: New Music + Integrated Arts Festival marks 10th celebration

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