Not the World Cup of (largely) classical music: revisited! Highlights and talking points

Not the World Cup was a “glorious celebration of classical and world music” that ran alongside a small men’s football competition in late 2022.

Each team in each game of the football was represented by a short piece of (largely classical) music – 110 pieces in all from 107 composers (including 41 pieces by women): loads of great music and loads of new discoveries.

I got together with my friend the conductor and writer Lev Parikian to pick some highlights and talk about a few of the things we learnt – about music, about how we listen and how it makes us feel.

Listening time 41 mins.

Here’s a Youtube playlist of our favourite things of all from Not the World Cup:

and a playlist of everything that was clipped in the episode.

What do you think? Let me know with a comment below. I’d love to hear from you!

You can learn more about Lev Parikian, his books, gigs, writing, nature projects, etc., at: and also on Substack Twitter.

It’s a fluid conversation but things break down a bit like this:

01:56 Wistful piano pieces and surprise winners [Music by Dolores Castegnaro, Enrique Granados, Julio Fonseca]

04:30 Giving things a chance/ deciding quickly this isn’t for you/ music that transports you/ powerful openings [Iris Szeghy, Karl Jenkins, John Williams]

08:16 Curation – contrasts and similarities [Hector Villa Lobos, Arthur Honegger, Reena Esmail, Kamancheh music played by Narges Dehghani, Sufi music from the group Hadarrattes Souiriyattes]

11:45 Universal music in a world of nationalism, colonialism, borders and nationality

16:10 Strange new worlds: non-western music to western ears and sensibilities –  Korea Republic and Africa [M. Birvaa, Unsuk Chin, Anne-Marie Nzie]

21:27 Moods and complexity: Joy, sadness and sheer energy [John Adams, ND Jobins balafon music]

24:49 Authenticity and craft [Astor Piazzolla, Dana al Fardan]

26:28 Biases, choosing pieces from classical music’s ‘big players’ & pre-conceptions [Orlande de Lassus, Hector Berlioz, Johann Sebastian Bach]

32:55 Music that’s not by white guys and a Mayer detour

34:48 The final matches and final thoughts [Felix Mendelssohn, Eddie Mora, José Pablo Moncayo, Gabriela Ortiz]

The Cacophony episode on Emilie Mayer’s 7th symphony, which excited Lev so much, can be found here.

ALL the music from the epic NWC adventure can be found by exploring the Cacophony website.

…and some of the pieces discussed have their own ‘normal’ Cacophony podcast episodes where they’re discussed in a bit more depth:

Felix Mendelssohn: Symphony No.3, “Scottish” (the ‘winner’ for Germany) 

Maurice Ravel: Mother Goose suite (‘should’ have been the winner…)

Reena Esmail: Darshan

John Adams: Short ride in a fast machine

John Williams: Olympic fanfare and theme

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Thanks for listening!

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