Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Event to Celebrate New University of Guelph Improvisation Institute

GUELPH, Ontario August 26, 2013 - University of Guelph News Release - Musicians, scholars, music lovers and others are invited to a free event Sept. 3 to celebrate the launch of a unique research institute at the University of Guelph. The International Institute for Critical Studies in Improvisation (IICSI) aims to improve society by bringing together the arts, scholarship and collaborative action.

Directed by U of G professor Ajay Heble and backed by a $2.5-million grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), the institute will use improvisation as a teaching and learning tool and as a model for building successful communities.

The launch will be held at the River Run Centre. A 7 p.m. reception will be followed by remarks at 8 p.m. from U of G president Alastair Summerlee, Guelph Mayor Karen Farbridge and others. A “world percussion summit” featuring Pandit Anindo Chatterjee (India), Dong-Won Kim (South Korea), Hamid Drake (United States) and Jesse Stewart (Canada) will round out the evening.

“This group of performers represents some of the most cutting-edge work going on in the field,” said Heble, an English professor, musician, and artistic director and founder of the renowned Guelph Jazz Festival.

“It’s also a fitting way to kick off our institute’s work, which involves leading artists and thinkers from around the globe bringing multiple voices and perspectives into creative dialogue and leaving room for the surprising and revelatory discoveries that can happen when we open ourselves to each other.”

The event is free and open to everyone. Registration is not required. The launch occurs in conjunction with the 20th anniversary of the Guelph Jazz Festival, which runs Sept. 4 to 8.

IICSI will involve 56 international scholars from 20 institutions, including McGill University, the University of British Columbia, Memorial University of Newfoundland and the University of Regina, as well as more than 30 community partners.

Institute programs will focus on three key research priorities: community health and social responsibility, practice-based research and digital technology. The initiative was ranked No. 1 among finalists for the SSHRC grant, which was one of 20 awarded nationwide. The new institute stems from the Improvisation, Community and Social Practice research project directed by Heble that was also backed by a SSHRC grant.

“What we’re doing is unique in the world," he said. "We’ve propelled Guelph forward as a world centre for using improvisational music as a form of social practice, an engine for change.”