Dr. Ellen Waterman

Dr. Ellen Waterman

Dr. Ellen Waterman, the 2019 inaugural Helmut Kallmann Chair for Music in Canada, is participating in IF 2020, a 24hr, online improvisation festival based out of the University of Guelph. Prof. Waterman (flute/voice) will be performing alongside Michael Waterman (theramin/homemade instruments) as experimental sound duo Pama. Music Professor, Dr. Jesse Stewart, will also be contributing an original musical piece for the festival.

Improv Institute Announces IF 2020, a 24-hour Online Festival of Improvised Arts

This “all-night, online celebration of the arts,” which will start on August 8th at midnight GMT, will present original performances by over 150 artists from around the world.

July 8, 2020 (Guelph, ON)—The International Institute for Critical Studies in Improvisation (IICSI), a partnered research institute centered at the University of Guelph, is excited to announce a new online festival celebrating improvisational art. Starting on August 8th at midnight, GMT (August 7th at 8pm, EST), IF 2020 will feature video/audio submissions from 150+ artists from 15+ countries. This 24-hour festival, streaming pre-recorded performances, is free to attend and will feature a dynamic array of improvisational artists, including musicians, spoken word poets, dancers, and theatre practitioners.

The festival line-up has been curated by IICSI director Dr. Ajay Heble (Founder and former Artistic Director for the Guelph Jazz Festival) along with partnering organizations from across Canada and around the world. Canadian festivals presenting artists include Hillside Festival (Guelph, ON), Suoni Per Il Popolo (Montreal), Coastal Jazz and Blues (Vancouver), and Mariposa (Orillia, ON); international presenters include Lasalle College of the Arts (Singapore), Sonic Arts Research Centre (N. Ireland), and Onassis Cultural Centre (Greece).

“Music and the arts have long been important catalysts for imagining, and indeed often enacting, new ways of living together in the world,” Heble says. “I’ve been particularly struck by the way artists, arts presenters, and other organizations around the world have improvised community during these challenging times, how they have encouraged us to imagine the world anew.”

IF 2020 will present a wide range of artists, including several acclaimed Canadian artists: Book of Negroes author Lawrence Hill; Juno Award-winning pianist Marianne Trudel; and Governor General’s Award-winning poet Lorna Crozier. An eclectic roster of international contributors includes American free jazz bassist William Parker, Order of Australia-winning saxophonist Sandy Evans, and renowned Japanese avant-garde pianist Satoko Fujii, who Cadence Magazine dubbed “the Ellington of free jazz.” The full roster of artists is available online, at www.improvfest.ca.

Speaking to the inspiration behind IF 2020, Heble credits URGNT, the Toronto-based online venue, as well as friends and colleagues in Italy at the University of Padua. “During a nation-wide lockdown in a country ravaged by the Coronavirus,” Heble explains, “these outstanding organizers hosted PANSODIA, their own amazing 24-hour online celebration in honour of UNESCO International Jazz Day.”

“I’m excited to be able to share our own 24 hours of unique programming,” Heble adds, “and to celebrate the ways in which improvising artists are using the resources at hand in the arenas that are open to them in order to make right things transpire, sometimes in even the most challenging circumstances.” Bracing for the heartache of a summer without live music and arts festivals, this digital gathering will provide an opportunity for people to come together and be reminded of the incredible range of art that persists regardless of this pandemic.

This initiative is being made possible through support from numerous community partners, including the University of Guelph’s COVID-19 Research Development & Catalyst Fund, U of G’s College of Arts, and long-time IICSI partner Musagetes. The International Institute for Critical Studies in Improvisation is generously supported through a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Partnership Grant.

Tuesday, July 14, 2020 in
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