IICSI UBC Colloquium 2019

Agile Futures: Approaching Improvisation

June 22-23, 2019
The Western Front, Grand Luxe Hall 303 East 8th Avenue, Vancouver, British Columbia

Free to the Public

The International Institute for Critical Studies in Improvisation and Coastal Jazz present our eleventh colloquium in Vancouver, British Columbia—Agile Futures: Approaching Improvisation.

The colloquium takes place during the opening weekend of the TD Vancouver International Jazz Festival at the Western Front, one of Canada’s leading artist-run centres for contemporary art and new music. The colloquium will feature keynote addresses and artist talks by world-renowned improvisers who are performing at the festival: Darius Jones, Mats Gustafsson, Meredith Bates, and Jing Xia. There will be a free public screening of The Invaders, with filmmaker John B. Smith and musician Arish A. Khan to present and discuss the film.

Presentations and performances may engage with questions like these: In a world marked by social and cultural exhaustion, what can the improvising arts and activism contribute to the realization of hopeful futures? How do theatrical, musical and artistic practices of improvisation offer new and alternative forms of creative knowledge? How does improvisation enable responsive and responsible agility? What are the intersections of improvisation with speculative fiction or with Afro-futurisms or with experimental art- forms? How can improvisation enliven or challenge various forms of composition and performance, and contribute to an enhanced sense of awareness? Can improvising help us engage with nascent communities or public initiatives or counter-publics? How can improvisers push back at injustice or advocate for human rights? How can better, transformative and diverse futures be imagined from our immediate unruly present?

IICSI-UBC acknowledges that this colloquium takes place on the traditional, ancestral and unceded territories of the xwməθkwəy̓ əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱ wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish), and səli” lw̓ ətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) peoples: we are deeply grateful for their ongoing welcome.

Saturday, June 22nd

10:00am Panel: Agilities
Jay Hammond (Duke University),“Dreaming from the Ashes”
Michael Wallace (Monash University), “Social Networks for Composition and Improvisation”
Tom Scholte (University of British Columbia), “Enhancing Systemic Analytical Capacity in Forum Theatre”

11:00am Panel: Futurities
Sara Ramshaw and Kristen Lewis (University of Victoria), “Attuning to Precarity: Crisis, Collaboration and the Possibility of Improvisation”
Catherine Lee (Willamette University), “My Shifting Identity as a Performer in Alluvium (2016) by Taylor Brook”

1:00pm Artist Talk: Meredith Bates

2:00pm Artist Talk: Mats Gustafsson

3:00pm Artist Talk: Jing Xia


Sunday, June 23rd

10:00am Panel: Approaches
Beau Stocker (University of York), “Rhythm in improvised music composition and performance: Improvised music models of East African rhythm translations that structure drum set sound exploration”
Eunhye Jeong (Berklee College of Music),“Improvising to Create the Aged Now”

11:00am Panel: Convergences
Patrick O’Reilly (University of Toronto), “Constructing Musical Networks: An Investigation into the Convergence of Extended Notation and Mail-Art”
Stacey Bliss (York University), “Heightened Awareness Through Improvisational Soundscapes”

1:00pm Artist Keynote and Film Screening: The Invaders
Pre-show talk, post-show Q&A, Arish Khan and John B. Smith
Inspired by militant black leaders like Malcolm X and Stokely Carmichael, a new, radicalized generation of civil rights activists made up of young college students, Vietnam vets, musicians, and intellectuals emerged in Memphis in 1967. Prichard Smith uncovers the history and significance of the often-overlooked group, detailing their surprising behind-the-scenes involvement with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in the pivotal days leading up to his assassination.

3:00pm Artist Keynote: Darius Jones


Concerts Featuring Artist Speakers

Mats Gustafsson

Mats Gustafsson with the Kids’ Table Quartet
June 21 Performance Works @1:30 pm (free to the public) Mats Gustafsson (solo)
June 21 The Imperial @ 9pm (ticketed concert)

Darius Jones

Darius Jones, Peggy Lee, Angelica Sanchez, Dylan van der Schyff June 27 The Ironworks Studios @ 9:30 pm (ticketed concert)

Meredith Bates

Pugs and Crows June 29 David Lam Park Stage @ 1:45 pm (free to the public)


Agile Futures: Approaching Improvisation acknowledges and thanks the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada for funding support.

The Coastal Jazz (and jazz festival) website: coastaljazz.ca
The IICSI website: improvisationinstitute.ca
The IICSI-UBC website and research portal: iicsi.arts.ubc.ca
Critical Studies in Improvisation / Études critiques en improvisation: criticalimprov.com