NASOM: Sharing the Sound of Austria With the World for 20 Years

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As we close out 2023, we’d like to draw your attention to a very special anniversary: over the last two decades, the New Austrian Sound of Music program – NASOM for short – has been invaluable to the Austrian music scene, giving an international boost to hundreds of artists and groups and sharing Austrian music with the world. But let’s start at the beginning…

2002: The Two Towers and Spider-Man were in movie theaters, Herbert Grönemeyer’s Mensch was the world’s best-selling non-English album(!), and the world was still reeling from the after-effects of 9/11. In that light, the decision of the Austrian Foreign Ministry (BMEIA) to create an international sponsoring program for Austrian musicians seems like a pretty courageous move – and it paid off. Today, Austrian musicians enjoy a healthy international reputation for curiosity and creativity, in part thanks to NASOM.

There has been some tinkering with the genres and number of sponsered artists over time, and a couple of skipped years – notably 2022, due to Covid – but in general, the BMEIA and mica – music austria get together every two years to choose 25 artists in the categories classical, jazz, global, contemporary classical, and pop/electronic. Those artists receive financial and logistical support for their international concerts for the next two years, often via the Austrian Cultural Forums – the most famous of these is the ACFNY, but the Foreign Ministry operates 30 cultural forums worldwide, including in such far-flung places as Beijing, Mexico, Teheran, and Tokyo.

So why are we telling you all this? Well, roughly speaking, it’s NASOM’s 20th anniversary, and that is unquestionably cause to celebrate. The list of beneficiaries is far too long to be included here: 59 individual musicians and 156 musical groups have received support via the NASOM program since 2002. Here’s a (very!) small sampling of the people whose careers have received a boost from the program…

Duo Fre Do: Frederik Neyrinck, Doris Nicoletti © Sieglinde Groeßinger

Doris Nicoletti: The adventurous flautist and contemporary music specialist is one of the few three-time NASOM nominees – in 2009-10 with Ensemble Platypus (now a cornerstone of the Austrian contemporary classical scene), 2014-15 with Duo Soufflé, and 2016-17 with Duo Fre Do.

Photo (c) Sieglinde Groeßinger

Mario Rom´s Interzone (c) Severin Koller

Herbert Pirker: One of the premiere drummers of his generation, this tireless musician’s list of collaborations is practically endless and includes three NASOM acts: Falb Fiction, kelomat (both in 2006-2007), and Mario Rom’s Interzone in 2014-2015.

Photo (c) Severin Koller (Pirker at right)

Photo of Pichler Bros. (c) Stefanie Marcus

Andreas & Matthias Pichler: Les frères Pichler are twin towers on their respective instruments (drums and bass) and twin three-timers, with Gravity Point, their duo pichler bros (both in 2012-13) and the Philipp Jagschitz Trio (2014-15).

Photo (c) Stefanie Marcus

Golnar Shahyar (c) Ina Aydogan

Golnar Shahyar: The acclaimed Iranian-born singer, multi-instrumentalist, and composer is a fixture on the Austrian global and creative music scenes. She’s been a NASOM artist with the groups Choub (2014-15), Sormeh (2016-17), and Golnar & Mahan (2018-19).

Photo (c) Ina Aydogan

In the next couple of months, we’ll be digging a little deeper into NASOM history, asking musicians about their experiences with the program and finding out what they’ve been up to since. So, happy new year – and stay tuned!

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