The best festivals are those that present the new and unfamiliar on equal footing with the tried and true. In the experience of this seasoned festival-goer, the Canberra International Music Festival –  this is my seventh CIMF – stands with the best of the best in this country. This year, alongside lashings of music of, from and about Vienna, there is a healthy dose of new music, as well as music totally new to me.

This program introduced two instruments absolutely new to me and to the audience. There was another notable ‘first’ too, with the premiere of a new piece commissioned from composer Brian Howard, this year’s composer-in-residence.

Baran Yildiz performing at the Canberra International Music Festival. Photograph © Peter Hislop

Baran Yildiz is a young Turkish-Australian percussionist-composer who presented a bracket of music based on Sufi traditions of his homeland. He played on a trio of metal handpans which resemble a cross between a steel drum and a flying saucer. Nestling each between his knees, he tapped their metal surfaces to produce a fair range of pitches and dynamics. There were...