Improvisation as Intercultural Contact and Dialogue

Improvisation as Intercultural Contact and Dialogue is the title of an IICSI colloquium held at Memorial University of Newfoundland in St. John’s, July 6-8, 2016. The colloquium explored and critiqued concepts of interculturality that, although forwarded as processes for peace (UNESCO) might also be seen as techniques for “cultural management.” Ethnomusicologist Deborah Wong, from the University of California Riverside, spoke as keynote speaker. Organizer Ellen Waterman hoped to bring together ethnomusicology and critical improvisation studies to look at the relationships between locally situated music cultures, and intercultural contact zones/dialogues. “With the recent establishment of a section on Improvisation (headed by Mark Laver) at the Society for Ethnomusicology,” she wrote, “it seems like a very good time to bring the two fields into more explicit contact.”

The colloquium took place during the 18th Sound Symposium festival of new music and sound (July 8-16), and which presented gamelan master Ade Suparman in workshops, and discussing his own approach to interculturality in his compositions and performance group. Memorial’s Gamelan Sagara Asih will also premiere a new piece for improvisational flute and suling by Bill Brennan.

Please see the Call For Papers (deadline February 15, 2016) and Facebook page for full details.

Please click here to download a PDF version of the call for papers.

Please click to download a PDF copy of the schedule.


Wednesday, July 6th, 2016

8:30 – Registration

9:00 – Welcome

9:15-10:30 Workshop: Gayle Young (Independent Artist, Deep Listening Certificate Holder, Grimsby, ON) Deep Listening Workshop

This interactive workshop explores techniques for Deep Listening developed by Pauline Oliveros and presented by Gayle Young, who studied with Oliveros. Deep Listening “explores the difference between the involuntary nature of hearing and the voluntary, selective nature – exclusive and inclusive – of listening.”



10:45-12:15 – Panel: Theorizing Intercultural Encounter and Listening

  • Dylan Robinson (Queen’s University) – xwelálám, sísewel: listening, witnessing, sensing
  • Renee T. Coulombe (Banshee Media/Improvised Alchemy) – Towards a Critical Theory of Deep Listening Practice

12:15-1:15 – Lunch (provided)

1:15-1:30 – Formal welcome from Ian Sutherland, Dean, School of Music

1:30-3:00 – Improvising Dialogue for Understanding

  • Jing Xia & Sara Pun (Memorial University of Newfoundland) – Lecture / Demontration: Guzheng & Gamelan in Performance
  • Linda M. Ippolito (Osgoode Hall Law School and Queens University Faculty of Law) – Collaborative Music-Making: An Innovative Approach to Conflict Resolution and Peacebuilding

3:00-3:15 – Break

3:15-4:45 Panel: Intercultural Contact and the Ethics of Influence

  • Daniel Hawkins (Memorial University of Newfoundland) – Regeneration vs Repudiation: Steve Reich, Ewe Music, and the West
  • Harald Kisiedu (University of Guelph) – Emancipation Revisited: The Curious Case of Peter Brötzmann

4:45-5:30 – Lecture/Demonstration: Patrick Boyle – Improvisation and the Politics of Error

5:30-7:30 – Dinner (on own)

7:30-9:30 – Improvisation jam at Suncor Energy Hall

Join us for a participatory evening of free improvisation – bring your instrument and play, or enjoy listening!

Thursday, July 7th, 2016

FREE MORNING – Whale and bird watching boat tours (approx. $58 or $42 for students 25 and under). You might also like to use this morning to climb Signal Hill right in St. John’s Harbour for spectacular views of the city and ocean (free!).

1:00-2:15 – Keynote Address: Deborah Wong (University of California, Riverside) – Alliances, Coalitions, Partnerships, and Pacts: From Interzones to Solidarities

2:15-2:30 – Break

2:30-4:00 – Panel: Intercultural Improvisation and Negotiations of Difference

  • François Mouillot (McGill University) – Translating Improvisation: The Role of Record Labels and Performance Spaces in Musique Actuelle
  • Dhiren Panikker (University of California, Riverside) – Browntopia: Interminority Coalition Building in Post-9/11 Jazz and Improvised Music

4:00-5:30 – Lecture/Demonstrations: Voicing Interculturalism

  • Helen Pridmore (University of Regina) – The Sound of Your Voice, the Voice of Your Sound (A Talk/Workshop on Communication via Spoken Word Improvisation)
  • Chris Tonelli (Memorial University of Newfoundland) – Choral Improvisation as a Tool for Intercultural Dialogue

5:30-7:30 – Dinner (on own)

7:30-9:30 – Concert: Intercultural Improvisation and Creativity (Suncor Energy Hall, School of Music)

Eastern Owl Drum Group (Newfoundland’s all-women all-nations drum group perform a mix of traditional and contemporary First Nation’s music), Sbot N Wo (voice and electronics by Helen Pridmore and WL Altman), and much more!

Friday, July 8th, 2016

10:00-11:15 – Keynote Address: Jason Stanyek (University of Oxford) – Bossa Nova and the Intercultural Imagination: On the Critical Demographies of Improvisation

11:15-11:30 – Break

11:30-12:15 – Lecture/Demonstration: Parmela Attariwala (Independent Scholar and Musician, Toronto) – The Piercing Embrace: Confronting Hybridity and Alterity through Intercultural, Multimedia Performance

12:15-1:30 – Lunch (provided)

1:30-2:30 – Workshop: Lois Brown (Independent Multidisciplinary Artist, St. John’s) – improvisedwalking

Walkingimprovisation is harmonious interaction among people and can be with groups with plural, varied and dynamic cultural identities. Improvisedwalking moves beyond power dynamics and mixed motives, towards a care-full, yet spontaneous response to others – an embodied understanding of the self as a function of the group, and the group as a function of the self.

2:30-3:15 – Paper: Gabriel Dharmoo (Concordia University) – Ethics in Anthropologies imaginaires: Improvised Imaginary Folklore as a Catalyst for Intercultural Dialogue

3:15-3:30 – Break

3:30-5:00 – Panel: Intercultural Improvisation, Tradition, and Innovation

  • Ken Shorley (Acadia University) – Lecture / Demonstration: Creating the Next Moment: Electronic Dance Musicians and Karnataka Percussion Soloists – A Comparative Look at Improvisation within a Fixed Form
  • Ade Suparman (Master Sudanese gamelan player and composter) interviewed live by Ken Shorley. The presentation will include samples of Suparman’s intercultural gamelan compositions.

5:00-7:00 – Dinner (on own)

7:00 – Tombolo Multicultural Festival, in corporation with the Sound Symposium – Concert: Arts and Cultural Centre – Zimbamoto, Fretboard Journey, Salsa in St. John’s ( Tickets can be booked online through the Arts and Culture Centre, or in person at the Box Office. ($30/$15 students)

9:30 – Sound Symposium – Night Music at the Ship Pub

  • James O’ Callaghan – “Reasons for Amplified Books & Electronics
  • Phthong (Chris Tonelli, Christine Duncan, Gabriel Dharmoo, & Fiona Chatwin – vocal improvisations)
  • Remote Ctrl (Rick Bailey, Rozalind MacPhail, Craig Squires)

This colloquium is a project of the International Institute for Critical Studies in Improvisation, and was made possible by the generous assistance of our partners: the School of Music at Memorial University of Newfoundland, the Research Centre for Music, Media, and Place, and the Sound Symposium.