International Society for Contemporary Music

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The International Society for Contemporary Music (ISCM) is a music organization that promotes contemporary classical music.

Quick facts: Abbreviation, Formation, Founder, Origins, Fi...
International Society for Contemporary Music
International Society for Contemporary Music
FounderEgon Wellesz
OriginsSalzburg, Germany
Parent organization
Internationale Gesellschaft für Neue Musik (IGNM)

The organization was established in Salzburg in 1922 as Internationale Gesellschaft für Neue Musik (IGNM) following the Internationale Kammermusikaufführungen Salzburg, a festival of modern chamber music held as part of the Salzburg Festival.[1] It was founded by the Austrian (later British) composer Egon Wellesz and the Cambridge academic Edward J Dent, who first met when Wellesz visited England in 1906.[2][3]

In 1936 the rival Permanent Council for the International Co-operation of Composers, set up under Richard Strauss, was accused of furthering Nazi Party cultural ambitions in opposition to the non-political ISCM.[4] British composer Herbert Bedford, acting as co-Secretary, defended its neutrality.[5]

Aside from hiatuses in 1940 and 1943-5 due to World War II and in 2020–21 due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, the ISCM's core activity has been an annual festival of contemporary classical music held every year at a different location, the first of which took place in 1923 in Salzburg, which has come to be known as the ISCM World Music Days (sometimes World New Music Days, abbreviated either WMD or WNMD depending on which name is used). There have been a total of 92 of these thus far, the most recent of which took place in Tallinn, Estonia in May 2019. The 2021 WMD in Shanghai and Nanning has been postponed until March 2022[6] and the 2022 WNMD is scheduled to take place in New Zealand in August 2022.[7]

From left: György Ligeti, his son Lukas, his wife Vera Spitz, Conlon Nancarrow and Michael Daugherty at ISCM World Music Days in Graz, Austria, 1982

Each year, during the World Music Days. ISCM members also convene in a General Assembly. Membership in the ISCM is organized through national sections that promote contemporary music in each country. These sections are usually organizations independent from the ISCM that send delegates to the ISCM General Assembly. Each member of the national section is also a member of ISCM and may send in 6 works that are evaluated for performance at the World Music Days. National organizations that promote contemporary music, but have not been designated as the nation section of ISCM, are sometimes given an associate membership status. This status also applies to the members of these organizations. Some individual music professionals receive the "honorary membership" status. The ISCM is governed by an Executive Committee consisting of seven people; two (Secretary General and Treasurer) are appointed positions and the remaining five (President, Vice President, and three regular members) are chosen from and by the delegates in an election during the General Assembly.[8]

Since 1991, the ISCM has also published an annual World New Music Magazine, a print publication that is distributed to its members for further dissemination. A total of 28 issues have been produced. Recent magazine issues are available as digitally downloadable PDFs from the ISCM's website.[9] ISCM is a member of the International Music Council. The current members of the Executive Committee of the ISCM (as of the September 2021 General Assembly which took place over Zoom) are: Glenda Keam (New Zealand), President;[10] Frank J. Oteri (USA), Vice President; Oľga Smetanova (Slovakia), Secretary General; David Pay (Canada), Treasurer; George Kentros (Sweden), Tomoko Fukui (Japan), and Irina Hasnaș (Romania).[11]

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