subText: a short history

Steven Naylor, Jeff Reilly, and Tom Roach began performing together in 1990, as founding members of Upstream.

Over the next decade, they developed a strong affinity as an improvising trio— highlighted in a special recording project for CBC-Radio’s All the Best, and in many Upstream performances and broadcasts.

In 2009, Naylor brought the trio back together, with fellow Upstream alumnus, cellist Christoph Both, for a special concert titled subText: Archipelago.

Soon after, Subtext Music & Media Arts Association was formally registered, and for several years we produced an annual multi-concert series.

Our projects soon extended to include other like-minded artists—with flautist/ composer Derek Charke as a regular ensemble member, and collaborations with saxophonist Dani Oore, percussionist Mark Adam, bassist Lukas Pearse, the Subscription Opus duo, and the Montréal-based duo Toninato/Thiessen.

In parallel, our performances increasingly focused on smaller subSets of the larger ensemble, hosted by other presenting organisations and festivals—including Sound Symposium, Halifax Jazz Festival, Acadia New Music Festival, and Upstream’s Open Waters Festival.

In 2022, acknowledging that we had fully evolved from a formal ‘presenting organisation’ to a much more flexible ‘performance project’, we de-registered the society under whose umbrella our original foundational concerts had been presented.

But as we continue our creative journey in this adaptable new form, our artistic focus remains the same as it was for that first 2009 concert:

To create thoughtful, challenging, contemporary music that blends the energy and intensity of free improvisation with the elegance of chamber music.