Eager to hear something new in music? Look no further than the 8th annual SALT New Music Festival. Running August 22 to 25, the 2019 SALT festival and symposium brings together world-renowned Canadian and international composers and performers with students of contemporary music for four days of concerts, workshops and discussions.

Ajtony Csaba

Organized by Music professor Ajtony Csaba and hosted at UVic’s School of Music by founding ensemble, Tsilumos (Victoria), the SALT festival will collaborate with the internationally acclaimed Quasar Saxophone Quartet (Montréal), UVic audio specialist Kirk McNally and groundbreaking Canadian new music performers Liam Hockley, Stephanie Bell (Duo 1010) and Kristen Cooke (Vancouver). New music by Canadian and international composers are the highlight of the festival, and can be heard over the course of five public concerts held at UVic and Open Space in downtown Victoria.

Festival participants will have the chance to take part in discussions, lectures, workshops, lessons in composition, electronic music, and contemporary music interpretation with the guest artists and composition faculty Mauricio Pauly, Sabrina Schroeder and Wolf Edwards.

But the whole festival kicks off with a special album release event at 7pm Thursday, August 22 in UVic’s Phillip T. Young Recital Hall. The new album, the timber of those times, featuring music by Istvan Anhalt as recorded by the SALT Festival Orchestra and the Hungarian Radio Symphony Orchestra as conducted by Ajtony Csaba. Released by CMC Centrediscs, a portion of each album sold will also go towards supporting School of Music ensembles.

Istvan Anhalt (1919-2012) was a leading figure in avant-garde composition during the second half of the 20th century in Canada. Though trained and educated in pre-war Budapest and post-war Paris, Anhalt wrote all of his major works after settling in Canada in 1949. He employed various modernist compositional techniques, making use of dodecaphony and extended vocal techniques. He also worked in various media including traditional scores for orchestra and electronic music; many of his most significant compositions are for orchestra, but he wrote in all of the major genres, from solo instrumental works to opera.

Anhalt’s entire output as a composer is not large, having only completed about three dozen works over a the 60 year span from 1947 to 2007. The present recording of Anhalt’s last two orchestral works, launched on the occasion of the centennial of the composer’s birth, marks the beginning of an ongoing project by Ajtony Csaba to create professional commercial recordings of recent Canadian orchestral repertoire. Anhalt’s stature as “the heavyweight among Canadian composers” (as Udo Kasemets wrote in 1975), the high quality of his mature compositions, and a significant and growing body of scholarly work on his music, all suggest that he will retain his place as an important voice in Canadian composition of his era.

This new recording by the SALT Festival Orchestra and the Hungarian Radio Symphony Orchestra includes Anhalt’s two final orchestral works: “the timber of those times (a theogony)” and “Four Portraits from Memory”.

The SALT New Music Festival runs Aug 22-25 in the Phillip T. Young Recital Hall in the B-Wing of UVic’s MacLaurin Building and at Open Space, 510 Fort St. Tickets are $5-$10 and available at the door.

Here’s a complete list of events:

  • 7pm Thursday, Aug 22 (Phillip T Young Recital Hall): Festival opening & Anhalt CD Launch
  • 8pm Thursday, Aug 22 (Phillip T Young Recital Hall): Concert of Ensemble Tsilumos
  • 4:30pm Friday, Aug 23 (UVic’s Create Lab, downstairs in MacLaurin B-wing): The mixing of the timber of those times, including a guided studio visit, demonstration and listening session in UVic’s new Create studio with sound engineer Kirk McNally
  • 8pm, Friday, Aug 23 (Phillip T Young Recital Hall): Concert of Quasar Saxophone Quartet, performing “Territoires sonores 1” plus works by Rebecca Bruton, Emilie Girard-Charest, Jim O’Leary, Ofer Pelz and Ajtony Csaba
  • 10:30am Saturday, Aug 24 (MacLaurin B037): “Body, eyes and ears—new connections”, an open symposium and colloquium on current issues in New Music, with Wolf Edwards. Sabrina Schroeder. Mauricio Pauly, Ajtony Csaba and Dr. Adam Con
  • 2:30pm Saturday, Aug 24 (Phillip T Young Recital Hall): Concert of Modular Music, an octet concert with participation of Quasar Saxophone Quartet, Tsilumos Ensemble, Liam Hockley and Kimia Koochakzadeh-Yazdi performing works by Ajtony Csaba, Jean•Marc Bouchard and Sabrina Schroeder
  • 8pm Saturday, Aug 24 (Open Space): New Works for Wind Instruments, a concert of Duo 1010 (Stephanie Bell, flutes; Liam Hockley, clarinets) and Kristen Cooke (Oboe, English Horn) performing works by Max Murray, Nina Senk, Kimia Koochakzadeh-Yazdi, and Karlheinz Stockhausen
  • 10am Sunday, Aug 25 (Phillip T Young Recital Hall): Closing concert, with the festival ensemble presenting results of the composition and interpretation workshops.