Graham Newcater: Composing Untimely
Graham Newcater is a composer of twelve-tone music, one of very few South African composers to use this system and the only one to remain committed to it throughout his composing career. In his late seventies, Newcater began composing for solo piano for the first time, and has to date completed twelve works for the instrument, of varying scale and length. My practical engagement with the piano music between 2016 and 2018 is the entry point for research on Newcater’s biography and compositional aesthetic. This article traces Newcater’s development as a composer, from the early years of his development and discovery of the twelve-tone method, through his study years in the United Kingdom and his eventual turning to the piano as medium of choice. I study the composition Chromatic Serpent (2016) in some detail to highlight some aspects of Newcater’s style and aesthetic. Finally I propose an interpretive lens developed by Giorgio Agamben to help contextualise Newcater in terms of contemporaneity.