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James Austin Smith leads tour to South Africa

James Austin Smith, co-artistic director of Decoda, leads a tour to South Africa to engage the finest, young South African classical musicians and explore how to make classical music more accessible to larger audiences.

Oboist and faculty member James Austin Smith, who also serves as the co-artistic director of the Decoda ensemble, is currently leading the group in a tour to South Africa. In addition to touring the county, they are launching the Decoda Institute South Africa (DISA) Residency in collaboration with the Stellenbosch International Chamber Music Festival.

Speaking about their ensemble, James said, “Decoda’s mission is to bring meaningful musical experiences to as many people as possible regardless of circumstance…the ensemble takes just as seriously any performance in a community centre, shelter, hospital, prison or school as we do our performances on the main stage in a traditional concert hall.”

They are launching the residency “for interactive and creative performance. We’re bringing in 20 of the finest, young South African classical musicians to Stellenbosch and we’re going to spend time with them really exploring the art of interactive performance. How do you make classical music more accessible to larger audiences?” Decoda’s interactive performances are a way of pulling back the curtain on classical music and helping audience members to understand the works. James continues, “If you don’t have a little bit of an instruction book, background or a little bit of guidance, you’re gonna have trouble finding a way in so that’s what we practice as an ensemble and we’re looking to impart some of those skills in the young, bright future of classical music in this country and so that they can continue doing the work after we leave to spread the music.”

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