Close this search box.

Contemporary Calgary Comes Alive At Sound Atlas Music Festival 

The hybrid classical music event is bringing something fresh and long-overdue to the prairies. 

by Latoya Elle

After moving to Calgary two years ago, Jani Parsons, a member of the hybrid classical music ensemble Latitude 49, quickly identified a missing component in Calgary’s music scene. Although celebrated in Alberta’s capital to the north, the lack of contemporary music festivals in Calgary promptly inspired Parsons and the rest of her bandmates to turn what they’ve always dreamed of into a reality with an entirely distinct music festival that blurs the lines between classical music, pop, folk, experimental, and contemporary performance practice.

“We’ve been to and participated in some really amazing music festivals in the States and seen what’s possible,” she tells RANGE. “And it’s really amazing energy when you have all this creativity happening on stage.”

At the Sound Atlas Music Festival, Latitude 49 intends to showcase various classical and contemporary music styles, including traditional music from local Chinese flutist Jiajia Li of Ginger Beef, providing instrumental stages for new and established composers who use acoustic instruments and electronic sounds. The dynamic music festival is designed to embody the new music from the classical, contemporary community. 

“We want to break down those feelings of ‘tradition’ and have classical music evolve into something that is very much music of the present,” says Parsons, who is also the festival director. 

The three-day festival will also premiere original music from local composers, feature a song cycle from Grammy Award winner John Corigliano, and encapsulate pop music influences and innovative performances from Liam Elliot, a composer and sound artist from Calgary, AB.

In partnership with the University of Calgary and Contemporary Calgary, the inaugural tapestry event is not only showcasing a diverse range of emerging talent and established composers, but it will also be the playground for Latitude 49’s debut Canadian performances. Currently, members are based across North America, from Michigan to Wisconsin. The group of 10 years has toured the US and is excited to be playing three new and completely different sets — one each day.

“It’s really a showcase of some of the music that we have loved and that we really really enjoy and want to share,” says Parsons.

Organizers hope to gather cultural curious music lovers to exhibit how classical music has evolved and revolutionized the genre.

Sound Atlas Music Festival runs June 23 to 25 at the University of Calgary’s Rozsa Centre | TICKETS & INFO