Musika Nova is a student organization that focuses on listening to, discussing, performing and writing new classical music. After being inactive last spring, the group is being revived by a few former members hoping to put their own spin on the group. The first meeting of the year included students from a wide range of musical backgrounds, including composers and a diverse collection of musicians. The common thread uniting members of Musika Nova is an interest in new classical music.
“New classical music” is a broad term. It encapsulates everything from meditations (improvised, reflective music) to a piece by composer John Cage called “4’33,” in which the performer sets a timer for four minutes and 33 seconds and then sits in silence while the audience listens to the ambient noises around them. Musika Nova uses a variety of techniques to explore this music form: one fascinating exercise involves the group sitting in a circle with each participant choosing a word and repeating it as they wish. Another invites the circle to gather their instruments— several vocalists, a violin, a keyboard, a ukulele and an oboe. They then choose a note and improvise from there.
Anna Severetson ’22, a club officer, said the goal of the club this year is to provide an inclusive space for students to explore new music.
“The music buildings on campus can be sort of isolating,” Severtson said.
The aim of Musika Nova is to explore music that may be unlike anything students have experienced in the past and music that can go against the norms of what students expect.
The organization also plans to focus more on interdisciplinary work this year – dance, meditation and language will be fair game at Musika Nova.
Musika Nova is a group of dedicated students working to promote new music forms on campus. But it is also an organization for people to explore how we think about music and what our expectations for it should be. According to Severtson, Musika Nova revolves around a few key questions: What is music? How are we perceiving it? And how do we accept different kinds of music at St. Olaf?
These questions are worth exploring anytime, anywhere — and particularly at a school as devoted to music as St. Olaf. Both musicians and non-musicians would benefit from the exploration, and Musika Nova is a wonderful place to ask these questions. Keep an eye on Musika Nova, and stop in for an experience unlike any other. Musika Nova meets at 9 p.m. on Thursday nights in Center for Art and Dance (CAD) 204A.