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PHILADELPHIA MUSIC PROJECT Professional Development Program

New Frontiers in Music Improvisation Across Genres: Charting the Unknown Thursday, December 18, 2008 The Pew Center for Arts and Heritage 1608 Walnut Street, 18th Floor Philadelphia, PA 19103

RSVP deadline: Thursday, December 11, 2008 To RSVP for this event, please call PMP at 267.350.4960 or email Willa Rohrer at wrohrer@pcah.us RSVP is required

Moderated by

Improvisation is one of the most elusive yet universal aspects of music-making, a phenomenon that bridges oceans, cultures, aesthetic temperaments and even historical periods. Elementally human, heightening expression, it electrifies audiences and performers alike with the charge of the unexpected. Jazz, itself a diverse set of vocabularies and schools of thought, has traveled forth from America to inspire players on every continent. The musical traditions of East Asia and India, ancient yet infinitely adaptable, have exposed countless musicians to a generative world of sound, tonal organization and ensemble interplay. Artists of all backgrounds, working in new and unclassifiable areas of sonic experimentation, are beginning to receive their due as purveyors of the next improvisational frontier. In an improvisational spirit, this symposium considers the questions: What common ground is being forged between vastly different models of improvised music? What role has technology, instant global communication and the blurring of genres played within and among the various disciplines? When does composition end and improvisation begin? How does one “learn� to improvise? Is improvisation spiritual? Political? The panel discussion gathers Pauline Oliveros, a composer, conceptualist and accordionist whose immeasurable contributions to new music extend over four decades; Jason Moran, a leading jazz pianist and Blue Note recording artist, with influences ranging from hip-hop to visual art; Jason Kao Hwang, a violinist with deep roots in the loft and downtown jazz scenes, whose original works have brought avant-garde jazz into contact with East Asian musical culture; and Kiranavali Vidyasankar, a vocalist, chitravina (fretless lute) player and authority on Carnatic (South Indian) classical music, which she has performed since the age of five. The afternoon may include brief performances and/or recorded examples by these artists.

David R. Adler Music journalist: Jazz Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer Featuring Jason Moran Composer/jazz pianist Pauline Oliveros Composer/accordionist Jason Kao Hwang Composer/violinist Kiranavali Vidyasankar Carnatic vocalist/chitravina player Registration 1:45 to 2:00 pm Panel 2:00 to 4:30 pm Reception 4:30 to 5:00 pm This event is free and by invitation only. However, if space is available, PMP will consider public attendance requests. Please contact PMP for more information. Produced by the Philadelphia Music Project, a program of The Pew Center for Arts and Heritage Photos, left to right: Kiranavali Vidyasankar, Jason Moran, Jason Kao Hwang, Pauline Oliveros


David R. Adler writes about music, politics and culture. His work has appeared in The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia Weekly, Jazz Times, Down Beat, The New York Times, The New Republic Online, Slate, Forward, Democratiya, Jazziz, New Music Box, All Music Guide, Global Rhythm, All About Jazz, Signal to Noise, Coda, Jewish Currents and more. David is also the editor of Jazz Notes, the quarterly publication of the Jazz Journalists Association. As a guitarist, David has worked with the famed producers Dave McDonald (Portishead), Patrick Dillett (B-52’s, They Might Be Giants) and Dave Fridmann (Flaming Lips, Mercury Rev). Jason Moran made his professional recording debut on Greg Osby’s 1997 Blue Note CD, Further Ado, which brought him to the attention of Blue Note executives who signed the pianist to his own record deal shortly thereafter. Moran’s debut recording as a leader, Soundtrack to Human Motion, which found him in the company of Osby, Eric Harland, vibraphonist Stefon Harris and bassist Lonnie Plaxico, was released in 1999 to great critical praise (Ben Ratliff of The New York Times named it the best album of the year). Subsequent solo recordings: Facing Left with bassist Tarus Mateen and drummer Nasheet Waits; Black Stars with avant-garde woodwind icon Sam Rivers; the solo piano disc Modernistic, and most recently, Same Mother. Moran has performed as a sideman with Cassandra Wilson, Joe Lovano, Ravi Coltrane, and Stefon Harris. Commissions have come from the San Francisco Jazz Festival, Jazz at Lincoln Center, Imani Winds, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Smithsonian Magazine featured Moran as part of 37 Under 36: America’s Young Innovators in the Arts and Sciences. Composer, performer and humanitarian Pauline Oliveros is an important pioneer in American music. Acclaimed internationally, for four decades she has explored sound—forging new ground for herself and others. Through Deep Listening Pieces and Sonic Meditations, Oliveros introduced the concept of incorporating all environmental sounds into musical performance. To make a pleasurable experience of this requires focused concentration, skilled musicianship and strong improvisational skills, which are the hallmarks of Oliveros’ form. In performance Oliveros plays an accordion that utilizes just intonation and electronic processing to alter its natural sound and to explore the acoustic characteristics of diverse performance spaces. She now serves as Distinguished Research Professor of Music at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and Darius Milhaud Composer in Residence at Mills College. Composer and violinist Jason Kao Hwang has created works ranging from jazz, classical, “new” and world music. He leads two ensembles, EDGE, his jazz quartet, and Spontaneous River, an orchestra of string improvisers. Mr. Hwang’s chamber opera, The Floating Box, A Story in Chinatown (New World Records), presented by the Asia Society in 2001, was named one of the top ten opera recordings of 2005 by Opera News. Recent commissions have come from Music From China for a string quartet and Mutable Music for “Within Moments,” premiered by baritone Tom Buckner and the Quasar Saxophone Quartet. As a violinist, Mr. Hwang has worked with Reggie Workman, William Parker, Anthony Braxton, Vladamir Tarasov, Butch Morris and Henry Threadgill. As a Carnatic vocalist, instrumentalist, writer and teacher, Kiranavali Vidyasankar is easily among the most versatile artists of her generation. Her talents were nurtured by her father, ‘Chitravina’ Narasimhan, and first brought to the notice of the public when, at the age of two, she effortlessly identified over 200 ragas (melodic scales) and 175 talas (rhythmic cycles). Her career as a vocalist began when she was five. Endowed with a good voice and a high level of musical maturity, she is one of the most respected musicians in the field today. Kiranavali’s skills at playing the slide instrument chitravina are equally noteworthy. Kiranavali has performed extensively in India and the U.S. under the auspices of prominent organizations and festivals, including the National Centre for Performing Arts (Mumbai), India International Centre (New Delhi), The Music Academy (Chennai), and the Cleveland Thyagaraja Festival (U.S.A.), often earning awards for best performances. She has also lent her voice for several recordings and television productions. She currently resides in the Philadelphia area.


Improvisation Across Genres