Thirsty Ear begins promptly this Saturday at 5:00 p.m. and ends at 8:30. The festival, the third annual, double-duties as an extended-length live broadcast of the WFMT show Relevant Tones, explaining the need for precision.

Three acts will constitute the festival. “The philosophy is to have a headliner and two other artists, one well-known one that deserves wider attention,” says Seth Boustead, the organizer of the festival and host of Relevant Tones. This year’s headliner is Graham Reynolds, a composer and bandleader Boustead describes as Lou Reed meets Duke Ellington meets Dmitri Shostakovich.

Reynolds and Boustead met about eight years ago, and the working relationship has been fruitful. Boustead helped Reynolds line up a gig at the Cultural Center and programmed some of his pieces with Access Contemporary Music. Reynolds, who lives in Austin, Texas, connected Boustead with the filmmaker Richard Linklater, some of whose films Reynolds has scored. Boustead took his Sound of Silent Film Festival to Linklater’s live venue in Austin.

For the festival, Reynolds, a pianist and drummer, requested a string quartet. Boustead lined up a group of local string players, including Eighth Blackbird’s cellist, Nicholas Photinos.

The more-established of the other two acts is Gaudete Brass Quintet, a new-music-inclined ensemble founded in 2004. Their program includes Still, a piece by the brass-quintet expert David Sampson commissioned by Gaudete last year. They also plan to play the local conductor Cliff Colnot’s brass-quintet arrangement of John Corigliano’s Gazebo Dances.

The newer act is Fonema Consort, a three-year-old local new-music ensemble that promotes music that includes the human voice. The centerpiece of their set, Georges Aperghis’s Les Sept Crimes de l’Amour, shows a bizarre kind of Dadaist-sexual humor in its staging—a reason to attend in person instead of listening on the radio. It’s the best new-music piece I’ve heard that calls for an apple.

The Thirsty Ear Festival begins at 5:00 p.m. on July 12. $20. City Winery, 1200 W. Randolph St.