News Release

REF NO.: 43

SUBJECT: Open jam session and public lecture to launch International Institute for Critical Studies in Improvisation

DATE: November 1, 2013

Memorial University will launch a new partnered research institute, the International Institute for the Critical Studies in Improvisation (IICSI), with a public lecture by internationally renowned jazz scholar and pianist Dr. Ajay Heble on Wednesday, Nov. 6, in Suncor Energy Hall at the School of Music on the St. John’s campus at 7 p.m.
The event is free. Audience members are invited to bring their instruments along and participate in an open jam session following the lecture. 
“It seems appropriate to celebrate the launch of this exciting partnership through music as well as talking,” said Dr. Ellen Waterman, dean of the School of Music and a flutist. “We’re interested in using improvisation to think through some of the most pressing issues of society by partnering with music festivals and social agencies.”
Dr. Heble is the director of IICSI and professor of English in the School of English and Theatre Studies at the University of Guelph. He is the author of several books on improvisation, including most recently The Fierce Urgency of Now: Improvisation, Rights, and the Ethics of Cocreation, co-authored with Daniel Fischlin and George Lipsitz (Duke University Press). Dr. Heble is also artistic director of the award-winning Guelph Jazz Festival and is pianist with the improvisation ensemble the Vertical Squirrels.
His talk, Dreaming of Other Worlds: Jazz, Improvisation, and Utopias in Sound, brings the insights of jazz legend Sun Ra with IICSI’s social aims.
“When Duke Ellington, in a 1957 issue of Down Beat, was quoted as saying that he was not interested in educating people,” said Dr. Heble, “fellow jazz composer and improviser Sun Ra, in the liner notes to one of his earliest recordings released that same year, responded by declaring, ‘I want to go on record as stating that I am.’ In this talk, I’ll suggest that Ra’s pronouncement has a valuable, if unsuspected, role to play for critical practice and research in improvisation studies, and that the questions it opens up can reinvigorate our understanding of the very places where we look for knowledge.”
IICSI (pronounced “icey”) was the top-ranked proposal in the 2013 SSHRC Partnership Grant competition and has received seven-year funding. Its mandate is to create positive social change through the confluence of improvisational arts, innovative scholarship and collaborative action.
The institute’s research team comprises 56 scholars from 19 different institutions and five academic partners (University of Guelph, McGill University, Memorial University of Newfoundland, University of Regina, University of British Columbia), a foundation partner (Musagetes) and over 30 community-based organizations. Memorial has contributed seven researchers and partners such as Distance Education, Learning, and Teaching Support (DELTS) and the Research Centre for Music, Media and Place. The Sound Symposium is also an important community partner.

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