Fishes, electronics, cats, and saturn

An eclectic concert hosted collaboratively by XiMe (U of A’s Experimental Improvisation Ensemble), Contempo Ensemble, MUSIC 470/570 Composition and Sonic Arts 2, and MUSIC 260 Composition.

Thirteen new works by Undergrad and Graduate composers will be premiered by UofA’s Department of Music ensembles XiMe and Contempo. Also Emily Casavant and Isael Huard will perform their own work, and the unique Will Northlich-Redmond will close the night with a memorable XiMe performance.

Join us! we promise there will be multichannel sound diffusion, fishes, interactive electronics, cats, trios, quartets, new conducting techniques, free improvisation, video scores, and even composers having nightmares with Saturn.

XiMe 2018 is Malaya BishopAshley WeckesserSean BorleGreg MulykThomas Woodrow MartinRio Houle & Jackson Hunter

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Miguel Bellusci and the music of Mauricio Kagel

We are very excited to host a talk this Wednesday (March 21) by the renowned Argentinian conductor and composer Miguel Bellusci, who will perform selections from Kagel’s Die Stücke der Windrose as part of New Music Edmonton’s 7th festival of new music (Holy Trinity Church, 7:30 p.m., March 23). The concert also features a work for string quartet and electronics by our own doctoral composition student Nicolás Arnáez, performed by the Vaughan String Quartet. It finishes with the world premiere of a Kagelian musical theatre piece by Bellusci himself.

Composer Mauricio Kagel, who was born in Buenos Aires in 1931 and passed away in Cologne in 2008, lived the first 26 of his 77 years in his home city and the next 51 in Germany. In Argentina, Kagel was often considered a German composer, while in Germany, although his name had a prestige that broadly overcame his biographical data, he was frequently associated with his native home of Argentina. Elsewhere he often simply placed in the blurry category of “Latin American” composer.

For this talk, entitled “The Argentine in Kagel,” Bellusci will trace the Argentinian elements of his works, an orientation which is essential in understanding his music.  Through diverse pieces such as Der Tribun, Mare Nostrum, Die Stücke der Windroseor, Tango alemán, and others, Bellusci will immerse us in Kagel’s unique musical universe, including his formative years in Argentina which shaped his unique and distinctive style.  Bellusci will also touch on his own work as it relates to the concert on Friday, March 23, which will be presented as part of Now Hear This!, the 7th New Music Edmonton Festival of New Music.

Talk:  Wednesday, March 21, 4-5 PM
University of Alberta, Fine Arts Building, room 2-28
FREE and open the the public

Concert:  Friday, March 23, 7:30 PM
Holy Trinity Anglican Church (10037 84 Ave NW)
Buy tickets here (student rates available)

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Echo of Nothing: Faculty Composers Concert 2018

Please join us for an evening of new works by University of Alberta faculty composers.

Faculty composers, Howard Bashaw, Mark Hannesson, Scott Smallwood and Andriy Talpash with new works for Guillaume Tardif, Roger Admiral, and the Edmonton Saxophone Quartet.

March 9, 2018 @ 7 30 PM
Timms Centre

Get Tickets Here

“Every something is an echo of nothing” ― John Cage


  • WIDDENDREAMS | Andriy Talpash
  • WHERE THE BULL DOZES | Scott Smallwood
  • UNDECLARED | Mark Hannesson
  • 12 FOR VIOLIN AND PIANO (2017) | Howard Bashaw


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Salomé Voegelin Talk: Performing Audible Fragment of Political Possibility

The Sound Studies Initiative pleased to host Dr. Salomé Voegelin.

Salomé Voegelin is an artist and writer engaged in listening as a socio-political practice. Her work deals with the aesthetic, social and political realities that are hidden by the persuasiveness of a visual point of view. She is the author of Listening to Noise and Silence: Towards a Philosophy of Sound Art, Bloomsbury 2010, and Sonic Possible Worlds: Hearing the Continuum of Sound, Bloomsbury 2014. Voegelin is a Reader in Sound Arts at the London College of Communication, UAL.

When: Tuesday, February 13th at 3:30 p.m.
Where: Studio 2-7, Fine Arts Building
Light refreshments provided

This talk is an attempt at performing rather than presenting the fragments that make up a collection of essays on The Political Possibility of Sound, to be published by Bloomsbury in 2018.

An essay is an improvisation, a trial of material that is not necessarily good or complete. Its porous and contingent nature forgives a lack of formality while the absence of good style and the neglect of technological perfection or virtuosity releases the potential for the incomplete and the unrealizable. Through its improvisatory and ‘non-virtuous’ nature it lends itself to performance rather than a lecture: to make unexpected connections and juxtapositions that reveal a different way things could be thought.

This performance of essayistic fragments practices rather than articulates between sonic cosmopolitanism and impossible geographies, between the indivisible volume of an auditory world, the speculative reality of the invisible and the audible and inaudible subjectivities that inhabit its sonic depth. It agitates sound’s potential for interdisciplinarity and works across concerns to highlight the sonic in-between: sound is not ‘this’ or ‘that’, but is what things are together and thus it encourages a different thinking about the possibilities of the political.

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Music Through The Eyes – XiMe in concert

Join us in a evening of graphic scores and free improvisation.
Music by:

Earle Brown, Isael Huard, Rio Houle, Greg Mulyk and Emily Casavant.

Performed by XiMe 2017:
– Malaya Bishop, Throat singing and other delights.
– Ashley Weckesser, Cello and surprising hits.
– Jackson Hunter, Percussion and found objects.
– Rio Houle, Drumming things and maybe piano.
– Greg Mulyk, Violin and electronics.
– Sean Borle, Djembe and something else.
– Thomas Woodrow Martin, Clarinet and surprises.
– Nico Arnáez, Double bass and mallets.

Doors 6:30, concert at 7:00. Convocation hall. Entrance by donation.

Monday, Dec. 11.  University of Alberta.

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Composition Forum – Weds Oct. 25

Mark Hannesson will present on the music of the Wandelweiser Collective.

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Paolo Bortolussi & John Oliver: Birds of Paradise Tour

On Weds, Sept. 27, flutist Paolo Bortolussi will perform a concert of new music for flute and electronics, and he will be accompanied by composer John Oliver. Both will offer an artist talk/master class at 4 PM, followed by a concert at 8 PM in Convocation Hall. Details:

  • Masterclass:  4 PM, Fine Arts Building room 2-28
  • Concert: 8 PM in Convocation Hall

The program for the “Birds of Paradise Tour” is drawn from and expands upon the critically acclaimed album Israfel, which was released by Paolo Bortolussi on the Redshift label in the spring of 2016. The album led to two nominations at the Western Canadian Music Awards: Composition of the Year for John Oliver’s Birds of Paradise Lost, as well as Classical Artist of the Year for flutist Paolo Bortolussi. The four works on the album highlight the spectrum of possibilities and challenges that have taken place in the world of electronic music. The earliest work, Israfel (1987) by Larry Lake, is a beautifully evocative work for amplified flute and tape, with no enhanced level of interactivity between the player and the electronic medium. Kaija Saariaho’s masterwork for flute and electronics, NoaNoa, creates 63 pedal-controlled electronic events that combine live processing of the flutist’s sound with electronic sounds and events. Keith Hamel, in Krishna’s Flute, takes this interaction a step further, where the computer tracks the flutist’s performance and adjust its timing based on what is happening in real time. Electronic events – be they live processing events or electronic sounds, can adjust continuously and vary in each performance. In John Oliver’s Birds of Paradise Lost, almost all of the electronic sounds are generated from the performer’s first few measures, in real time. The work unfolds with varying degrees of interaction between the computer musician processing the live sound, looping and playing back altered versions of it to interact with the live performer.  On this tour, we will add Elainie Lillios’ Among Fireflies, for alto flute and electronics, which combines elements of live performer/electronic media interaction with improvisation pyrotechnic virtuosity! While these works present a fascinating study of how performer and electronic media have interacted and continue to evolve, the pieces in their own right are lush, romantic, beautiful works, and together create a very satisfying program.

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Welcome back! The 2017-18 academic year starts Sept. 5, 2017!

Welcome Back!

Welcome back to a new academic cycle! This year we are launching this new site intended to encapsulate all of the information about composition and sonic arts at the University of Alberta, for both current and prospective students. While we will strive to keep this site updated and informative, please refer to the official music department pages for up-to-date information about our programs, auditions, etc. This site is meant to summarize those things as much as possible, as well as providing a quick snapshot of our current year’s activities. Please note: all dates for student concerts and events are listed in the sidebar. Please check this site often for updates and reminders!


This year’s new and returning student orientation will be on Wednesday, Sept. 27. The current schedule is as follows:

  • 9:30 AM – 11:30 AM Graduate Student Orientation, Convocation Hall
  • 1:00 PM – 3:30 PM Undergraduate Student Orientation, Convocation Hall
  • 4:00 PM – 5:00 PM Orientation to the Composition program, as well as new music ensembles, Studio 27-D in the Fine Arts Building (behind Studio 27)

Informal Graphic Competition

See the silly graphic at the top of the page? If anyone has better ideas – we are initiating an informal competition to create a graphic for this page that represents what we do here. So, if you have ideas, send them to Scott Smallwood.

We are looking forward to seeing you all, and hearing your great new music!!

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Welcome to the new website for the University of Alberta’s programs in new music composition and sonic arts!  The purpose of this site is to provide general information about our programs in composition, as well as providing current students with information about the current year’s activities.  We will also use the site to showcase outstanding student work, including sounds from original compositions and contemporary music performed by our students.

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