Now available on-demand: Now Hear This 2022 – New Music Edmonton’s 11th Festival of New Music
For program information, please click on each event box below.
Revisit the unforgettable performances of the 11th edition of New Music Edmonton’s Now Hear This festival! The six concerts from June 2022 are now available on-demand on Vimeo. There is no charge to watch, but please consider making a donation to help support programming.
Harcourt House: Wheelchair access from the building’s underpass via the basement art studios can be arranged with Harcourt’s staff at tel. 780-426-4180. Gender single stall washrooms with handrails. Seating in the art galleries to be arranged with Harcourt’s staff upon request.
Co*Lab: Wheelchair access at front door. All-gender single stall washrooms.
Muttart Hall: accessible building with gendered, multi-stall washrooms.
Yardbird Suite: this venue has gendered and multi stall washrooms, wheelchair accessible.
POSTPONED Harcourt House Artist Run Centre (10215 112 Street Northwest, Edmonton)
New Music Edmonton and Harcourt House have some audio therapy for you, just in time for spring! Join us for this series of small gatherings focused on enjoying what music and sound can do for you when you settle down and listen to what your ears are hearing.
Get your ears out, and join us in the opening event of the 2022 Now Hear This Festival!
When was the last time you put on a record and did nothing but listen to it? Local artist Lorin Klask will share some of their favourite music in relaxed, friendly sessions. Come and simply enjoy the listening experience, or talk about the music. Each session will include rejuvenating deep listening warm-ups, aimed at getting our ears active, receptive, and ready for sound.
Admission is free, but registration is required. Donations are welcome to help support our programming. Masks are recommended.
Accessibility: Wheelchair access from the building’s underpass via the basement art studios can be arranged with Harcourt’s staff at tel. 780-426-4180. Gender single stall washrooms with handrails. Seating in the art galleries to be arranged with Harcourt’s staff upon request.
AZDAAD (which means opposites, contrastive or paradoxical concepts, in Persian/Arabic) examines the possibility of making a whole out of paradoxical and contrastive materials. AZDAAD is a process to find the balance between human and machine, logic and emotion, arbitrariness and predictability. To fulfil this purpose, two performers use three machines as their instruments to create sound and image simultaneously. AZDAAD is an A/V composition/performance by NUM, for voice, SounDice*, and an interactive generative video engine. * SounDice is a multi-rhythmic pattern generator developed by Bagheri in Max/MSP with the help of electroacoustic and generative music techniques, integrated with computer programming and mathematics.
*content warning – the performance might be loud and intense for some audiences (both video and audio)
NUM is a multidisciplinary duo formed by Maryam Sirvan and Milad Bagheri in 2010, in northern Iran. NUM’s concentration is on sound art, electroacoustic and computer music, and audiovisual performances where they can manipulate and transform natural materials (sound and image) with the help of digital processing for their compositions . The duo moved to Calgary, Alberta, in late 2021.
Note by the composer: This string quartet is my first experimental piece to date, some aspects of the piece were in development for over a year. This string quartet is an interpretation of the shift from fall to winter, the listener can then listen for the different textures that represent those changes, as always the listener is free to travel to wherever they choose and interpret the piece in anyway they can.
Darmstadt Kindergarten (2015) by Mark Applebaum
Note by the composer: Darmstadt Kindergarten was commissioned for the Kronos Quartet by the David Harrington Research and Development Fund. It consists of a seventeen-measure “theme,” composed in two versions: instrumental and choreographic. The instrumental version is played conventionally on two violins, viola, and cello; the choreographic version calls for the players to substitute silent hand gestures—lavishly described in the score—for their instrumental sounds. (In this regard, the piece has a kinship with Gone, Dog. Gone! and The Second Decade (from 30) which similarly end in silent hand gestures.) The instrumental “theme” is repeated five times in immediate succession. During each successive statement one additional player is permanently removed from the instrumental group and instead plays the choreographic version. The hand gestures are executed at precise moments corresponding to the rhythms from the player’s instrumental part. Darmstadt Kindergarten is thus a piece that is partly about memory; the audience is invited to “hear” the instrumental material when later voiced by choreographed action. Music can indeed be expressed even in the absence of sound. The title alludes to the famous summer music courses held in Darmstadt, Germany. For decades composers such as Cage, Boulez, Nono, and Stockhausen met to share their latest musical sounds and ideas. The festival came to be known as a hotbed of the most gritty, modernist contemporary music, stuff aimed decidedly at mature audiences and, as a consequence, sometimes lacking the ludic sense of play that makes childlike enterprise so appealing (and perhaps in need of rehabilitation). Commissioned originally for a Kronos Quartet’s children’s concert, I wanted to compose a piece that could appeal at once to audiences of varying age, experience, and affinity for levity, gravity, whimsy, and rigor, something worthy of a “Darmstadt kindergarten.”
MASS EXTINCTION (2020) by Sointu Aalto
Note by the composer: I wrote this piece in fall 2020 out of a frustration at world leaders’ failed attempts at addressing the existential crisis posed by climate change. The piece explores ideas of absence, stasis, change, violence, and beauty. This is the first live performance of MASS EXTINCTION.
The pizza man is real (2022) by Sointu Aalto
The pizza man is real is a game of strategy. It was written for this concert and for the JAMS quartet, and this is its world premiere.
The pizza man has been my philosophical nemesis throughout my childhood. This piece is a meditation on my relationship with the pizza man and on what I have learned from years of intense debate with him. As you listen, consider the question: what is the common factor between long division, pizza, and neoliberalism? The answer is the winning strategy.
JAMS Quartet is an emerging string quartet based in Treaty 6 territory formed of Jessica Ortlieb, Anna Vlasova, Mora Clarke, and Sointu Aalto. They are especially interested in performing new music. JAMS has appeared locally in venues such as Contemporary Showcase Edmonton, Wye String camp, and free outdoor concerts. This concert features music by cellist/member Sointu Aalto, who is an award winning composer whose music has been played around Canada and the world.
a small heat in the long field (music for the ears of alexandra spence)* (2022) -rebecca bruton
Northern Sky at Dawn (2021) – Diana Tayler
framing* (2022) – Lesley Hinger
Catalogue (2019) – Rio Houle
*Commissioned by UltraViolet with the assistance of the Canada Council. World premiere.
a small heat in the long field for alexandra spence
My dear friend, Australian sound artist Alexandra Spence, is one of my closest listeners. I respect her ears and perspectives on sound and music more than just about anyone I’ve met. She also lives far away from me, in Australia, which means we live in tandem, on opposite sides of the earth’s sunshine orbit. Tending to our faraway friendship often involves creative practices such as slow postal gift-giving, shared listening sessions, longform email, and an ongoing digital thread of cute animal videos.
While labouring my way through the pandemic, I moved through periods of time during which I struggled to connect to my own listening and writing practice; without live performance I lost my sense for why music is meaningful, for me personally and in community. I felt this loss most acutely in my relationship with experimental music, which generally translates poorly through a laptop Livestream.
My own experimental composition practice circulates around the precarious, fluid nature of both time and perception. I am interested in the miraculous nature of small sound; the peculiar ways that time will bend when miniature sonic events are held with care and attention. How does one continue to participate, amidst digital solitude, in a world of music-making that relies on live room acoustics, and in-the-moment listening, to be realized?
I discovered during this period that writing for a specific set of ears didn’t seem so difficult. I of course don’t know whether Alex will enjoy this work, but I found the empathetic project of imagining her listening, far away and tomorrow, to provide accompaniment and solace through the loneliness of these strange two years.
This is a love-letter to listening, for the listening heart of just one friend. I hope your ears also enjoy <3 rebecca
Note on the title: ‘The Long Field’ refers to hiraeth, a quintessential Welsh word I learned about while listening to Mary Hynes’ interview with American writer Pamela Petro on CBC Radio’s Tapestry. It literally means ‘long field,’ but it also means far more than its English approximation of ‘homesickness’. Petro describes it as ‘something like a bone-deep longing for an irretrievable elsewhere or other. An acute awareness of the presence of absence.’
There is a certain magic held by a northern sky in the early morning hours that makes one readily bear the cold of the dark night that preceded it. Northern Sky at Dawn is a tone poem for alto flute, alto saxophone, cello and piano depicting the various stages of a November early morning sky around Edmonton, Alberta as it transforms from peaceful darkness to colours and activity. The piece is in three movements: Movement I: Slumber Movement II: Clouds of Coral Movement III: November’s Tears
framing is a measured journey through shifting perspectives and self-similar landscapes, using subtle shifts and a playing-out of loose processes to move between that which is vast, adjacent, and molecular. Emerging from some of the most impetuous years that I’ve personally lived, it reflects on how I might experience, or frame, a more tangible and restrained sense of time.
Catalogue is a piece about doing anything you want with what is given and hearing how it comes together.
UltraViolet is an Edmonton ensemble of forward-thinking, virtuosic, dedicated musicians: pianist Roger Admiral, cellist Amy Nicholson, flutist Chenoa Anderson, and saxophonist Allison Balcetis, UltraViolet is named in honour of composer Dr. Violet Archer.
rebecca bruton is a Calgary-based composer, songmaker, vocalist, and bandleader of the rarely-heard experimental supergroup Swanherds. She creates across several musical mediums, including chamber music, film scores, and free improvisation. rebecca’s chamber compositions are widely performed, having been commissioned by Ekmeles vocal ensemble, Quatuor Bozzini, Quasar Quatuor de saxophones, Arraymusic, and more. An avid interdisciplinary collaborator, she has created interstitial work with poet Angela Rawlings (CAN/IS), choreographer Heather Ware (NL), and composer/violinist/sound artist Halla Steinnun Stefansdottir (IS). With sound artist alexandra spence (AUS), rebecca co-founded Tidal ~ Signal, a Vancouver-based festival dedicated to supporting women and transgender artists creating experimental music. rebecca holds a Master of Fine Arts from Simon Fraser University, and with Lesley Hinger she is Co-Artistic Director at New Works Calgary.
Lesley Hinger is a Calgary-based composer, arts administrator, and educator. Her works have been performed across North America and Europe by such ensembles as the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), Sound Icon, Land’s End Ensemble, Ensemble Resonance, Ensemble l’Arsenale, UltraViolet, Caution Tape Sound Collective, and Vertixe Sonora. Her works have been showcased in numerous festivals including Third Practice, the National Arts Centre Summer Music Institute, Composit New Music Festival, Strata Festival, Toronto Creative Music Lab, New Music Edmonton’s ‘Now Hear This’ Festival, Ensemble Evolution at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity, and as a soundtrack to a haunted house at École Westlock Elementary. Lesley lives in Calgary AB, and is a graduate of Boston University (DMA), University of British Columbia (MMus), and the University of Calgary (BMus). She teaches music theory and composition in the School of Performing & Creative Arts at the University of Calgary, and is the co-Artistic Director of New Works Calgary.
Rio Houle is an Indigenous sound artist, performer, and student. “Sound gives me a way to ask questions, and hopefully in searching for an answer to them, come to an understanding in some small way.”
Diana Tayler is an Edmonton based composer, arranger, musical educator, and harpist. She has a background in Slavic Linguistics with a specialization in Discourse Analysis, and is currently pursuing graduate studies at the University of Alberta in Composition. Diana performs as a soloist and with other ensembles and artists, sings with i Coristi Chamber Choir, and participates in other choral projects as they arise. Diana draws much of her creative inspiration from nature and fairy tales, and uses her music as a vehicle for storytelling.
Many things can happen in a Hermit Crab show. Since influences are extremely varied and the musical approach is largely improvisational, the same piece might include jazz, punk, electro-acoustic, noise, none of the above. We can’t say. What is consistent is a commitment to exploring sound and texture, and to keeping things varied and interesting. Our current approach is centered around composed material that leads to improvisation, gradually transforming and developing over the course of the piece. Unless something else happens.
Hermit Crab is: Dave Wall – guitar, Kyle Cullen – guitar, Tim Wilson – bass, Sean MacIntosh – drums, percussion.
Hailing from the northern beauty of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, Hermit Crab uses the classic two guitars/bass/drums rock band format, Hermit Crab works with multiple influences – jazz, minimalism, trance, noise, electronic music – to create a sound that grows from simple rhythmic interactions and an attention to timbre, into collective improvisation that emphasizes a sense of compositional drive, creating a coherent sound that audiences have described as beautiful and engaging.
“Summer” is suite for solo santur in the mode of ‘Abu-Ata’ consist of 7 pieces (Summer Dream, Morning, Geraniums, Dance of the Little Fountain, Shades, Fiery Wine, Sunset). Inspired by the ‘Four Seasons’ of Vivaldi, I began composing four Iranian suites for solo santur based on the repertoire of Persian classical music. Summer was finalized in 2021 with the support of Edmonton Arts Council. Persian classical music has twelve grouping modes called ‘dastgāh’. Every of this sets include a number of metric and non-metric pieces as melodic model for improvisation and creativity. Summer is mostly inspired by the music creations of three legendary Persian composers, Faramarz Payvar, Jalil Shahnaz and Parviz Meshkatian. The mode ‘Abu-Atā is relaxed and warm, making it suitable for producing the feelings of Summer. Summers of Edmonton has been mild and most beautiful and another inspiration for me to complete this project here. The suite began with a slow, meditative piece ‘Summer Dream’ then we go to the traditional Iranian backyard with a small pool, a fountain in the middle and geraniums around the pool. The day becomes warmer close to the noon and the suite reaches the zenith with ‘Fiery Wine’ full of vibrant and bright melodies in the form of chahārmezrāb. As the day moves to the end, Sunset expresses the traditional Iranian gardens (Chahārbāq).
Mehdi Rezania, born in Abadeh, Iran is a composer, santur player, and researcher. He started music at age 13 and studied the advanced method of santur playing under Ardavan Kamkar in Tehran. He co-founded Baarbad music in Toronto with Toloe Roushenas and has performed numerously with many local and international musicians including Salar Aghili, Keivan Saket, Hossein Behroozinia, Sinfonia Toronto. His music projects have been supported by grants from Toronto Arts Council, Ontario Arts Council, Edmonton Arts Council and Canada Arts Council. He has been music advisor to Iranian Heritage Day at the Royal Ontario Museum and artistic advisor to Tirgan Festival in Toronto. He has a BFA and MA in music composition from York University and an MA in ethnomusicology at the University of Alberta. He is pursuing his Ph.D. in ethnomusicology at the University of Alberta supported by Social Science and Humanities Research Council. His interest is in contemporary classical music of Iran inside and abroad the country; the impact of politics, migration and globalization on its performance, composition and dissemination.
Two unbalanced sets of tight heads and improvisatory moments, including electronics, acoustics, and the special guest Allison Balcetis on saxophones.
Blackout Over Rio is an instrumental trio consisting of Will Northlich-Redmond – guitar, reeds, percussion; Nico Arnáez – bass, laptop; and Mark Segger – drums. A relatively new group, the trio of Northlich-Redmond, Arnáez, and Segger features complex rhythmic compositions, explosive soloing, compositions featuring ethnic instrumentation, and dynamic improvisatory interaction which finds inspiration in the Tony Williams Lifetime, John Coltrane’s free-jazz period, Larry Coryell, and space-rock groups such as Hawkwind and Ozric Tentacles.