Esther Marie Pauw

Artistic Researcher

+27 72 250 7476

Esther Marie Pauw is an affiliate of Africa Open Institute where she undertakes artistic research, sonic improvising, classical flute performance, curatorial projects, and flute coaching. Current research includes performances that focus on sonic architecture, experiments with learning through improvisation, and includes historical research into materialities of music instruments such as her great-grandmother’s harmonium. Together with the Africa Open Institute’s improvising collective, she publishes music-making on online platforms (, explores projects such as 1) improvising with a NAO robot, 2) sonic luminescence ‘with’ Krotoa, and 3) pluri-sonotopic collaborations that include creative work with improvising collectives such as AMM All-Stars (London) and Sono-choreographic trio (Berlin). She curates the Tamássy-Pauw public library, possibly the largest collection of flute-related sheet music in Africa. She coaches classical flute and music improvisation at Pieter Okkers House, the home of Africa Open Institute. 

Esther Marie has published accredited articles in Acta Academica, LitNet Akademies, Journal of the Musical Arts in Africa, South African Music Studies, and Perspectives of New Music. She has published creative work on artistic platforms such as herri, Ellipses, NewMusicSA Bulletin and Oxford Artistic Research. Greg de Cuir’s online film festival ( portrayed her 24 improvisations with Garth Erasmus and inspired subsequent Xnau Improvising projects including a residency at STIAS, music-making workshops at Zeitz MOCAA, and publication of the Blavet-Varèse project. CD publications include performances of contemporary flute duos with Barbara Highton Williams, Fofa le nna (2012, online, forthcoming), and flute solos by Justinian Tamusuza and Michael Blake on Too Late for the Prayers (AOI, 2021, online). She has played with chamber musicians, poets, and artists that have commissioned and premièred South African compositions locally and internationally and performed on national festivals such as the National Arts Festival (Grahamstown, 2006), Klein Karoo Nasionale Kunstefees (2007), Klein Karoo Klassique (2012) and Woordfees (Stellenbosch 2005-2024). Films by Aryan Kaganof (African Noise Foundation) that document flute-based interventions include Threnody for the Victims of Marikana (2014), Kreun (2015), Khoisan ghost kreun (2016), Nege fragmente uit ses khoi’npsalms (2018), Invocation (2020), Smeekbede (2020) and Slave Bell Quintet (2023). 

Esther Marie has a diploma in secondary cycle Music and English teaching (1992), holds the degrees BMus, BMus(Hons) and MMus (cum laude, Stellenbosch University) and has received licentiates in flute teaching (UTLM, UNISA, 1991) and flute performance (UPLM, UNISA, 1991). Her PhD in practice-based research (Stellenbosch University) focused on decolonial praxes of curating classical concert spaces amidst shifting perspectives of geo-politics of land, landscape, space, and migration of practices. She is a recipient of a 2020 Stellenbosch University Top Twenty Postdoctoral Award for Excellence in Research. 

  • 2023–2024 [Performances in research series] SONIC GUS, Wednesdays 1-2pm, curations & performances (solo and collective) since October 2023, Gallery University Stellenbosch (GUS) 
  • 2023 [Article] ‘Africa Open Improvising & AMM-All Stars’. Online, 
  • 2022 [Article, lead author] ‘Something in Return, Act II: The Blavet-Varèse project.’ Article compilation with new compositions and composer refections (based on my solo flute recordings), Garth Erasmus, Aragorn Eloff, Pierre-Henri Wicomb, Meryl van Noie and Jacques van Zyl. Online, 
  • 2021a [Co-authored article, with Maryke Hunter-Hüsselman et al.] ‘Knots of time and place: Music improvising practices amidst social distancing.’ Online, SU DRD, 
  • 2021b [Article] ‘The strain of the voice in Michael Blake’s Umngqokolo.’ Perspectives of New Music, vol 59, Issue 2 
  • 2021c [Research improvisation performance and article with Garth Erasmus and Pierre-Henri Wicomb] ‘Score-makers.’ Online, 
  • 2021d [Co-authored article, with Garth Erasmus, Francois Blom] ‘What do we learn from listening back to Khoi’npsalms?’ Peer-reviewed, Oxford Artistic and Practice based Research Platform (OAR), Issue 4, Working with you 
  • 2021e [Research improvisation with Gwaing trio, et al] ‘Something in Return’ Zeitz MOCAA. Sound recording: Images: 
  • 2020a [Music created with Garth Erasmus] ‘Something in Return: 24 Sound Pieces amidst Radical Acts of Care.’ Online, Windsor-Detroit film festival, curated by Greg de Cuir Jnr: Act IV of Radical Acts of Care, or Also exhibited at Zeitz MOCAA, Home Is Where The Art Is: Art Is Where The Home Is, curated by Koyo Kouoh, 22 October 2020–November 2021 
  • 2020b [Co-authored article, with Garth Erasmus, Francois Blom, and visual-digital edit by Aryan Kaganof] ‘Improvising Khoi’npsalms.’ Article, with film, online, 
  • 2020c [Co-authored article, with Garth Erasmus, Francois Blom, and digital edit by Andrea Hayes]. ‘Improvising Khoi’npsalms.’ Article, with sound and film, online, Ellipses […] Journal of Creative Research, Issue no 3, 
  • 2019a [Article] ‘Life writing 7 Joubert Street: A Memorialisation.’ Online, 
  • 2019b [Commissioned opinion article] 
  • 2018a [Music research performance, with Garth Erasmus and Francois Blom]. ‘Khoi’npsalms.’ Curation & performance, March 5-8 (Improvised music: flute, Khoi memory music, and organ. Woordfees (Festival), Stellenbosch, in four venues) 
  • 2018b [Conference proceedings] ‘Mapping music & musicking in Southern Africa.’ Peer-reviewed conference proceedings, South African society for research in music, Potchefstroom, 31 Aug–2 Sep 2017) 
  • 2017a [Article] ‘Musicking Poulenc’s ruins in Stellenbosch.’ Article with sound and video, Acta Academica 49:2, 68–94. DOI: http://dx.doi. org/10.18820/24150479/ aa49i2.4 
  • 2017b [Article] ‘Reverberations of Poerpasledam for flute and piano by Arnold van Wyk.’ English summary available at ‘Die naklanke van Arnold van Wyk se Poerpasledam.’ LitNet Akademies 14(3): 88–132. 
  • 2017c [Article] ‘An African Festivity: Sensing diversity, creolisation and knowledge though sound.’ Journal of the Musical Arts in Africa 14: 69–86 
  • 2015a [Article, co-authored with with Jürgen Bräuninger & Evelien Ballantine-Hagen] ‘Fractal Shapes for flute solo with electronic tape: Notes.’ NewMusicSA Bulletin, Issue 14. 5–11 [ISSN No. 1684-0399] 
  • 2015b [Article] ‘The flute becomes a gun: A flautist’s perspectives on Aryan Kaganof’s film, Night is coming: A Threnody for the victims of Marikana.’ South African Music Studies 34/35: 408–425  
  • 2015c [Music research performance, with Garth Erasmus] ‘Roesdorp: Memory wrapped in the lament I hear.’ Filmed by Aryan Kaganof, ‘Kreun’ (2016), ‘Khoisan Ghost Kreun’ (2017), ‘Roesdorp Naklank’ (2017). Reflection in DHET-accredited article, Acta Academica (see 2017a) 
  • 2015d [Unpublished PhD dissertation in practice-based research] ‘Curating South African flute compositions: Landscape as theme of exhibition.’ Supervisor: Prof. Stephanus Muller; Co-supervisor: Prof. Corvin Matei. Stellenbosch University: Department of Music, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. 
  • URLS to recent work, sonic, visual and text publications