IICSI in St. John’s

At IICSI Memorial, Ellen Waterman and Chris Tonelli are helping to make St. John’s, Newfoundland a hub of improvisational activity. Autumn sessions have included an October visit by Susanna Hood and Scott Thomson, the eastern terminus of their coast-to-coast performances of The Muted Note. In November, Symphony Nova Scotia cellist Norman Adams gave workshops with young string players as part of StringFest, a fall festival devoted to violin, viola, cello and bass. Three orchestras (young children, junior strings, and senior strings) developed improvisational pieces and performed them. Adams is the director of Suddenly Listen, an organization in Halifax devoted to Deep Listening and improvisation.

Photograph of Ingrid Monson.Also in November IICSI Memorial partner, the Research Centre for Music, Media and Place (MMaP) welcomed Ingrid Monson for a week of talks, seminars and meetings with students. Monson, an IICSI research collaborator and Quincy Jones Professor of African American Music at Harvard University, presented a talk―“From Freedom Sounds to Senufo Sounds: Social Vision and Improvisation in a Global World”―as part of the MMaP speakers series. Drawing on her work on jazz, race and politics in the United States, Dr. Monson compared and contrasted the social meanings of improvisation in jazz before the civil rights era, and music in Mali before and after the coup d’etat of 2012. She is currently finishing a book called Kenedougou Visions about virtuosic Malian balafonist Neba Solo and working on a series of essays on aesthetics and the body.

The Improvising Spaces series, curated by Chris Tonelli continued on December 5 with Session III: Touch, Memory and Solitude in Improvised Dance, with Karen Kaeja, Florian Hoefner, Marijn Companjen, Colleen Quigley, Andrea Tucker, Calla Lachance, Ryan Davis, Sarah Joy Stoker, Corie Harnett, and Louise Moyes. January to April sessions are currently being arranged and will feature Rimouski Quebec based improvisers Éric Normand and Phillipe Lauzier, political anthropologist Robin Whitaker, SSHRC Gold Medal winning ethnomusicologist and IICSI team member Beverley Diamond, Canada Research Chair in Aboriginal Studies Mario Blaser, and many others. Dr. Tonelli is also organizing the St. John’s Vocal Exploration Gatherings, an open group for the exploration of vocal and choral improvisation. Visit them on Facebook!

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