with Dr. Beverley Diamond, Dr. Robin Whitaker, & Spanner (Paul Bendzsa & Rob Power)

The Rocket Room, 272 Water Street
Monday February 23rd, 6-7:30pm. Free and open to all.

Session V of Improvising spaces features an interdisciplinary dialogue between Dr. Beverley Diamond, Research Chair in Ethnomusicology at Memorial University, Political Anthropologist Dr. Robin Whitaker, and the Improvising duo Spanner (Paul Bendzsa & Rob Power). The session will address the question of whether the improvisatory arts have anything to contribute to our understanding of how to successfully facilitate conflict resolution and intercultural understanding. Our session will begin with a musical improvisation by Spanner. We will examine and discuss the skills and qualities (listening, response, trust, flexibility, awareness, openness, spontaneous decision making) fostered by improvisation and displayed by Power & Bendsza and let this lead into a discussion of the presence and absence of improvisatory possibility in political processes and other domains of sociality and interaction.

For more information on Spanner see below or:

For more on Dr. Diamond's work see below or:

For more on Dr. Whitaker see below or:

Dr. Robin Whitaker’s scholarly interests lie in the broad area of political anthropology and cover problems of democracy, citizenship and human rights, the politics of representation, social inequality and feminist public anthropology. Her main ethnographic area has been Northern Ireland, but she has also worked in the Republic of Ireland and Newfoundland and Labrador.

Her earliest Northern Ireland fieldwork coincided with the start of the peace talks that led to the 1998 Belfast or Good Friday Agreement, and she has continued to do research in the post-Agreement context. This work addresses both the “traditional” ethnographic domain of face-to-face politics and what is conventionally understood as the public arena (mass media, electoral politics). The Northern Ireland Women’s Coalition, a party to the 1996-98 peace talks, provided her entry-point into the official peace process. Active membership in the Coalition – as a member of the NIWC Talks team and press officer in several elections – forced her to grapple with problems of engaged and partisan research. Subsequently, she has conducted research on the politics of human rights and abortion rights in post-Agreement Northern Ireland. She is currently developing a new project on household debt in Newfoundland, which was also the site for her MA research on Roman Catholic convents.

Robin is a member of MUNFA’s Academic Freedom and Grievance Committee and has recently finished a term as executive Member at Large for the Canadian Anthropology Society. Outside the university, she is a board member and irregular columnist for the The Independent ( She also sits on the board of Women Help Women, an international organization dedicated to increasing reproductive health choices for women around the world, and is an executive member of AMBA, the Avalon Mountain Bike Association.

Dr. Beverley Diamond is the Canada Research Chair in Ethnomusicology at Memorial University of Newfoundland where she established and directs the Research Centre for the Study of Music, Media, and Place (MMaP). The MMaP Centre works as an intermediary between university researchers and communities, often undertaking collaborative research production projects. The Centre runs an annual lecture series as well as symposia and conferences, and produces the Back on Track archival recording series as well as other print and AV material on relevant cultural issues in the province and beyond.

Diamond is known for her research on gender issues, Canadian historiography, and indigenous music cultures. Her research on indigenous music has ranged from studies of traditional Inuit and First Nations song traditions and Saami joik, to indigenous audio recording, traditional protocols for access and ownership, and, most recently, expressive culture in relation to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission on residential schools in Canada. Most recently she co-edited Aboriginal Music in Contemporary Canada. Echoes and Exchanges (McGill-Queen’s UP, 2012) which received a Choice Academic Book award. Among her other publications are Native American Music in Eastern North America (OUP, 2008) and Music and Gender (co-edited, U Illinois P, 2000).

Active in the development of ethnomusicology in Canada at Queen’s University, York University as well as Memorial University, she has been recognized for moving Canadian music studies in new directions and mentoring a generation of scholars who have greatly expanded the histories of cultural diversity. Diamond will serve as the President of the Society for Ethnomusicology in 2013-15. She was elected to the Royal Society of Canada in 2008, named a Trudeau Fellow (2009-12), and a Member of the Order of Canada (2013).

Rob Power is an active chamber musician, soloist, improviser, orchestral player, composer, teacher, and instrument builder. He has performed with the new music ensembles Continuum, Timeworks, and Attacca, the Celtic group Picket Line, the improv quintet JERK, and over twenty Canadian orchestras. Along with performances in Europe, Asia, South America and the United States, he has appeared at festivals across Canada from Whitehorse to St. John’s. Power has collaborated closely with many world renowned musicians, including Rivka Golani, Trichy Sankaran, Mika Yoshida, Beverley Johnston, Mark Fewer, Sal Fererras and John Wyre, and is a regular participant in Newfoundland’s Sound Symposium.

As a soloist, he has performed percussion concerti by Alan Bell, Clark Ross, Alison Cameron, and Gregory Hawco. As a chamber musician he has appeared in world premieres by some of Canada’s best known composers, including R. Murray Schafer, James Harley, Christos Hatzis, Stephen Hatfield, Clifford Crawley, Clark Ross, Bill Brennan, and John Wyre.

An active composer, Power’s compositions reflect a multitude of influences, and include both contemporary classical works and outdoor environmental pieces. Power was awarded the OZ-FM award for excellence and imagination in sound at the 2002 Provincial Drama Festival in St. John's, for composing the soundtrack for the Beothuck Street Players' production of Drink the Mercury. In 2006 he was invited to Patras, Greece to compose a Harbour Symphony for the European City of Culture celebrations, and that same year his percussion trio Untouchable was the first prize winner in the Millennium Arts Society Composition Competition. His most recent work, Cappahayden, was premiered at the 2012 Sound Symposium, and was toured throughout Atlantic Canada by the Torq Percussion Quartet.

Rob Power holds a Bachelor's degree in performance from the MUN School of Music, where he studied with Don Wherry, and a Masters degree from McGill University, where his teachers were Pierre Beluse and D'Arcy Phillip Gray. He has also studied with Alexander Lepak of the Hartford Symphony, and with Charles Fullbrook at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London, England.

Currently, Power is an Associate Professor of percussion at the MUN School of Music, where he maintains a large and vibrant studio of talented percussionists, and directs the renowned Scruncheons Percussion Ensemble. He is on the Artistic Committee of the Sound Symposium, the Newfoundland and Labrador Arts and Letters Committee, and performs regularly in a wide variety of musical collaborations, including the St. John’s rock band The Bash Brothers and the improvisational groups Spanner and McKudo. Rob is also a member of Newfoundland’s premiere African drum and dance ensemble Dzolali, and is the principal percussionist with the Newfoundland Symphony Orchestra. An avid builder of new and unusual percussion instruments, Power’s recent constructions include the po-pipes, glass triangle, PVC talking drum, the quarter-tone mirrorphone, and the glass marimba.

In 2009 Power was awarded the Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Council's Arts in Education Award, and in 2011 he was given the Newfoundland Symphony Orchestra Players Award.

Paul Bendzsa has been an enthusiastic creator and performer of classical and new music for most of his 40-year career. He was founding member of the new music ensemble, Fusion, the Sound Symposium, and the widely traveled Canadian Saxophone Quintet. He currently plays with the percussion, woodwind, the Yamaha-WX5 wind synthesizer and electronics duo, Spanner, the theatre-music group, Blue Rider Ensemble, and is principal clarinettist with the Newfoundland Symphony Orchestra. As Associate Professor at the School of Music at Memorial University, Paul teaches clarinet, saxophone, New Music Ensemble, classical and jazz improvisation, and chamber music. In the community he teaches a number of young aspiring musicians. Bendzsa also leads workshops for school teachers and students on creativity and composition through improvisation.

Paul is endlessly experimenting with artists in other media; for example, recent collaborations with visual artist Les Sasaki (in a series called "Hear the Art - See the Music") and improvisations with Vida Simon of Montreal.


School of Music

230 Elizabeth Ave, St. John's, NL, CANADA, A1B 3X9

Postal Address: P.O. Box 4200, St. John's, NL, CANADA, A1C 5S7

Tel: (709) 864-8000