Calgary New Music Festival ready to ‘Make A Noise’ for adventurous ears

Another festival? Sure.

A new music festival? Of course.

Although perhaps we should call it a not-so new new music festival.

This is year number three for the annual Calgary New Music Festival, which takes place Thursday, Oct. 19 to Sunday, Oct. 22 at various locations around Calgary, bringing together an eclectic collection “of diverse new music and sound art events” to warm things up or, as organizers say, “Make A Noise.”

Prior to this weekend’s event, first-year artistic director Laurie Radford spoke with theYYSCENE about what adventurous ears can to expect hear around the city.

Q: It looks as if the festival has assembled another exciting group of artists this year.

A: This is the third edition of the festival and we’ve compressed it into sort of a long weekend — Thursday to Sunday, Oct. 19 to 22. There are eight different events during those four days. It will be exciting, hopefully people can take in a lot of it.

The whole idea of the festival is a focussed experience of a particular art form or a particular selection of artists. So over the four days people can see an ensemble from Tel Aviv, Israel, they can see one of our local ensembles, Timepoint Ensemble, a unique duo of harpsichord piano and electronics, take a Soundwalk through Inglewood — a guided walk that brings your attention to the sounds around you. And then the rest of the day on Sunday there’s a little mini marathon in the afternoon, with three soloists — a solo drum kit player, a tabla player, an electronic instrument player — and in the evening a jazz ensemble with accordion and tabla. So it’s quite the eclectic mixture.

Q: It certainly is. But I guess the term “new music” is quite the large umbrella.

A: Anything that’s being done today is in some sense “new,” but it doesn’t always mean it’s innovative or exploratory. I think that most of the stuff we have on this particular festival is of the nature of exploration, innovations, searching for new sounds and new means of musical expression.

Q: This is the third year of it, what are you finding the hunger for this is in Calgary? Is there quite a demand for it?

A: It’s growing. Ten years ago or so there were a couple of groups in Calgary that specialized in new music creation and performance, now there’s about four or five. I think also younger audiences looking for new things, and also just being aware of new things via the Internet, so when artists come to Calgary or local artists are playing, it’s very easy to find out, “Is that something I want to go hear, is that an artist that I want to go hear their performance.” The information is there and people are informed, and I think they’re hungry for new sounds, for new musical experiences.

Q: I know that other than the Meitar Ensemble, the Tel Aviv act, there is a big focus on Canadian content this year.

A: Yes, that’s right. In fact except for one or two pieces on the whole weekend, all of the music is Canadian — by Canadian composers, almost all of them living. In fact, all of them living. It’s our little contribution, I guess, to the 150th anniversary of Canada. And it’s important, we are inundated with music from all over the world, and sometimes we forget some of the best artists and musical creators are in our own country and our own communities, so we’re trying to highlight them.

Q: If someone wanted to dip their toe into it and could only go to one thing what would you recommend?

A: (Laughs) That’s a hard one, speaking as the artistic director. There’s been a surprising amount of interest in the Soundwalk, just because nobody knows what it is, they’ve never experienced it, and it’s free. If there’s one thing, if you have two hours Sunday morning to go for a nice walk and be guided through the diverse sounds of Inglewood I would say that would surprisingly be a top pick.

The Calgary New Music Festival runs Thursday, Oct. 19 to Sunday, Oct. 22 at various locations around the city. For tickets and more information, including a complete schedule of events, please click here.