Musical creativity & flexibility
subText performs in flexible configurations from full quintet to duo. We also welcome collaborations with other artists, in all media.
Our performers bring a rich array of musical backgrounds to the ensemble—contemporary classical, jazz, fusion, musique actuelle, free improvisation, acousmatic electroacoustic, interactive electronics, and more.
In our performances, we’ve broken down borders between musical styles, blurred the boundary between vision and sound—and even backed up a (creepy) wind-up toy.
subText’s artistic director is Steven Naylor.
A history of improvisation
The roots of subText go back to 1982, when Tom Roach and Steven Naylor met as mutually reluctant members of a best-forgotten bar band.
Seven years later, Steven contracted Jeff Reilly to play on a film scoring session—where they spent much of Steven’s precious studio time joyfully improvising, instead of recording his score.
Shortly after, Jeff invited Steven to join him as a founding member of Upstream, and Steven suggested Tom as the ideal drummer for the collective.
When Christoph Both arrived in Nova Scotia, he was snatched up as Upstream’s cellist, and the four continued to play together as members of Upstream for several more years.
Fast forward to 2009. After nearly a decade focused mostly on electroacoustic music and studio composition, Steven wanted to make instrumental and improvised music a key part of his artistic practice once again. Remembering the remarkable creative synergy he had felt playing with Jeff, Tom, and Christoph, he asked them to join him for the first subText concert.
Not long after, Derek Charke performed with the group as a guest artist. It was immediately clear that Derek’s musical sensibility meshed perfectly with everyone else’s—and the permanent core of subText became a quintet.
“Absolutely stunning…[they] know how to listen, to bring about the quiet moments, the slow, the smallest sounds, to make an audience listen to and get so wrapped up in these without even thinking about it.”
“An object lesson in improvisation…engaging, even lyrical music.”
“There was much to delight the ear in this group’s nimble inventions.”
“Every musician on stage…a first-rate player and an inventive improviser.”
“Mature creators with intelligent ideas and a huge vocabulary to draw on.”
“Playfulness and moments of great beauty.”
The subText ensemble is a project of subText Music and Media Arts Association, a not-for-profit Society registered in the Province of Nova Scotia.
We gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the Government of Nova Scotia through the Department of Communities, Culture and Heritage.