A Series of Informances on 21st century music

Rova:Arts is pleased to present Improv:21 , a series of "informances" on twenty-first century music that explore the connection between predetermined structure (composition) and performer interpretation (improvisation). Led by master improvisers and composers from the Bay Area and beyond, and hosted by critic and KPFA radio host Derk Richardson, Improv:21 programs look at the many ways of organizing improvisation through a shifting (i.e. "improvised") combination of onstage lecture and dialogue, musical demonstration and performance, and audience question-and-answer forum.

Reasonably priced and easily accessible, these two-hour events are designed to inform, inspire, challenge, and enlighten a wide-ranging audience, from professional and amateur musicians to listeners of all backgrounds and levels of experience. All these informances are also being documented on video for future availability to students and fans alike.

The 2006-07 Season:

October 30 - Ben Goldberg: the chair the fact
Nov. 13 - John Zorn: Q + A
December 4 - Cheryl E. Leonard: Playing the Wild
February 5 - Lawrence D. "Butch" Morris: Conduction in Process
March 12 - Wadada Leo Smith: The Systemic Language of Music & the Spirituality of Art
April 9 - Chris Brown and Tim Perkis: Machines and Others
May 21 - Bob Ostertag: Creative Life
June 25 - William Winant and Joan Jeanrenaud: Approaching notated and improvised scores

all Improv:21 informances start at 7:00 pm and take place at:

San Francisco Performing Arts Library & Museum (SFPALM)
401 Van Ness Avenue (@ McAllister)
Veterans Building, 4th Floor
415-255-4800 = ticket reservation line
or click here for tickets

click here For directions to SFPALM

Produced by Rova:Arts, the series is now co-sponsored by San Francisco Performing Arts Library & Museum (SFPALM) in association with Other Minds. The John Zorn informance is presented in association with Cal Performances.

For further details on any individual show, click on the name of the performer.

Ben Goldberg, clarinetist, currently a member of Tin Hat and an expert on the music of Thelonious Monk and Steve Lacy, will be playing twice in this years SF JAZZ Festival: with Nels Cline's New Monastery on October 29, and with Myra Melford's The Same River Twice on November 4.  In between, he speaks with Derk Richardson. He is a distinctive composer as well as a philosopher on improvised music and is sure to discuss these troubled times and the role of the contra alto clarinet.

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John Zorn, recently anointed as a 2006 MacArthur Fellow, presents "Q+A." Literally a question and answer session with you, the audience. Zorn has been at the center of the improvised music scene since before it was a scene, creating inventive music that explores the spaces between and among genres, defying convention and redefining the experimental possibilities of musical performance. He has also been creative on the business side of the music as well, starting the most successful indy improvised-music label of all (Tzadik) and recently opening up a club in NYC (The Stone) where the music takes center stage at all times and the musicians receive 100% of the door. Subjects for Q + A will be chosen improvisationally and jump-cut from topic to topic, probably including discussion of his artistic influences, his concepts on the artistic process, his mammoth recording output, his bands, and his compositions being performed on November 12 in Berkeley, presented at Hertz Hall by CAL Performances.

This Improv:21 is presented in association with CAL Performances. Click here for information on Zorn's Nov. 12 performance at Hertz hall in Berkeley.

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Composer Cheryl E. Leonard is currently creating beautiful, quiet, and compellingly detailed music - pieces composed using found natural materials as instruments and based on phenomena from the natural world, and sometimes combined with the more conventional instruments of the string quartet family. Recently she has focused on making music with amplified rocks. She will talk with you about her work and also perform live with members of her working ensemble.

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Lawrence "Butch" Morris: "UNDERSTANDING CONDUCTION® (The gray area between notation and improvisation)"

Understand Conduction by visiting with Butch Morris on February 5

Morris will talk with you and Derk Richardson about his career and conduction, demonstrating in live performance with 8 string players from the Bay Area: Damon Smith and George Cremaschi - bass; Jonathan Segel - violin; Theresa Wong and Jess Ivry -cello ; Dina Maccabee and Tara Flandreau - viola

Awarded the 2006 Herb Alpert Foundation Award for music, Lawrence D. "Butch" Morris is recognized internationally as the principal theorist and practitioner in the evolution of CONDUCTION®. Mr. Morris first considered the possibility and nature of Conduction in 1971 and utilized its promise to reinterpret traditional notation four years later. In 1977, he began teaching Conduction workshops in Rotterdam Holland, and at the invitation of Henri Pousseur in 1979, Morris began to instruct Conduction and Improvised Music at the Conservatory Royal in Liege, Belgium. In 1985, understanding the depth and potential that Conduction had to offer music and musicianship, Mr. Morris began the 'Conduction Chronology,' a numbering system to document public performances of his non-notated works. Now in its 21st year, Mr. Morris has realized over150 Conductions and 22 recordings. He has employed more than 5,000 musicians in 22 countries and 62 cities.

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WADADA LEO SMITH:  The Systemic Language of Music & the Spirituality of Art.

The man on the horn: Wadada Leo Smith at Improv:21 on March 12

Wadada will talk with you and Derk Richardson about his career, perform on solo trumpet and exhibit his compositional scores, talking through his systems, his language for music and the incorporation of spirituality into his art. Mr. Smith is one of the most articulate and out-spoken members of the avant garde world of music; an inspiring night guaranteed for all audience members.

Wadada Leo Smith remains a pivotal figure within contemporary creative music. As a player, composer/improviser, professor at Cal Arts, and musical theorist, Smith?s contributions touch upon the history and future of jazz in all its incarnations. His current collaborations - from his work with Henry Kaiser and Yo! Miles, to his Golden Quartet, to guest spots with Spring Heel Jack and his association with John Zorn and Tzadik - hint at the breadth of musical influence and inner commitment that continue to drive Smith's explorations into the meaning of sound. His passion, dedication, love, and endless interest in music and musical worlds, and the significance of music in our lives and hearts, pours forth in every sentence and phrase he utters.

Generous with his time and ideas, Smith is a wellspring of musical wisdom, a master of both thought and execution. If the term "tone scientist" ever meant anything, surely it can be applied to Smith and his unending inquiry into the nature and importance of music to our world and our very survival. Smith lives life as music and music as life. One need only talk with him, even for a short while, to quickly realize that the two are inextricably linked, neither being able to survive in isolation from the other. This is the essence behind all that Smith does and perhaps his greatest gift to the rest of us. He challenges us to see the truth in one simple yet profound maxim: Life is song.

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CHRIS BROWN and TIM PERKIS have both been making music with computers for over two decades. They will discuss issues involved in improvising with their self-designed computer music instruments in different contexts: in ensembles that include acoustic instruments; in all-electronic groups (like "The Hub", the legendary computer network music band of which they are members); and in solo pieces. The relationship of composition to improvisation in live computer music will also be explored, both in conversation, and in a short set of solos and a duo they will perform.

CHRIS BROWN, composer, pianist, and electronic musician, creates music for acoustic instruments with interactive electronics, for computer networks, and for improvising ensembles. Collaboration and improvisation are consistent themes in his work, as well as the invention and performance of new electronic instruments. These range from electro-acoustic instruments (?Gazamba?, 1982), to acoustic instrument transformation systems (?Lava?, 1992), and audience interactive FM radio installations (?Transmissions?, 2004, with Guillermo Galindo). In 2005 he was commissioned to create ?TeleSon?, a composition for two ?ReacTable? instruments that were premiered in a joint concert between Ars Electronica in Linz, Austria and the International Computer Music Conference in Barcelona, Spain. Recent recordings of his music include "ROGUE WAVE" (on Tzadik), "TALKING DRUM" (on Pogus), and ?SUSPENSION?, on Rastascan. He teaches music at Mills College in Oakland, where hs is Co-Director of the Center for Contemporary Music (CCM).

TIM PERKIS has been working in the medium of live electronic and computer sound for many years, performing, exhibiting installation works and recording in North America, Europe and Japan. His work has largely been concerned with exploring the emergence of life-like properties in complex systems of interaction.In addition, he is a well known performer in the world of improvised music, having performed on his electronic improvisation instruments with over 100 artists and groups. Ongoing groups he has founded or played in include the League of Automatic Music Composers and the Hub -- pioneering live computer network bands -- and Rotodoti, the Natto Quartet, Fuzzybunny, and Wobbly/Perkis/Antimatter. Recordings of his music are available on over a dozen European and US recording labels. He is also producer and director of a feature-length documentary on musicians and sound artists in the San Francisco Bay area called NOISY PEOPLE to be released in 2007.

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BOB OSTERTAG will discuss with you and Derk Richardson the theme that have been the focus of all his work for 30 years: the intersection of art, politics, and technology. The conversation will touch on his disappointment with the direction of electronic music, his recent decision to put his catalog of recorded works in the public domain, his experiments with using technology to create new relationships between musicians. Over the last two decades, more and more of Ostertag's work has looked at how the tensions between machines and the human body in art open can serve as a lens through which to view those same tensions throughout society, tensions that are more and more central to our time.

Composer, performer, historian, instrument builder, journalist, activist, kayak instructor Bob Ostertag's work cannot easily be summarized or pigeon-holed. He has published 21 CDs of music, two movies, two DVDs, and two books. His writings on contemporary politics have been published on every continent and in many languages. Electronic instruments of his own design are at the cutting edge of both music and video performance technology. He has performed at music, film, and multi-media festivals around the globe. His radically diverse collaborators include the Kronos Quartet, avant garder John Zorn, heavy metal star Mike Patton, jazz great Anthony Braxton, dyke punk rocker Lynn Breedlove, drag diva Justin Bond, Quebecois film maker Pierre Hébert, and others. He is rumored to have connections to the shadowy media guerrilla group The Yes Men. In March 2006 Ostertag made all of his recordings to which he owns the rights available as free digital downloads under a Creative Commons license. He is currently Professor of Technocultural Studies and Music at the University of California at Davis.

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William Winant and Joan Jeanrenaud have been playing music together   since the early 80's when they first met at Mills College. Working often as a duo, they have had pieces written for them by Fred Frith, Alvin Curran and Jeanrenaud.

Their interest in contemporary music has led to years of experience  exploring notation and improvisation.  On June 25 they will speak with Derk Richardson and you about their experiences working separately and together in improvised-music contexts.

JOAN JEANRENAUD (Cellist/Composer) grew up in a small town outside Memphis, Tennessee and began studying the cello at age eleven. Following music studies at Indiana University with Fritz Magg and private instruction with Pierre Fournier, Jeanrenaud joined the Kronos Quartet. For two decades she worked with Kronos and hundreds of composers and musicians from John Cage to Frank Zappa. With them she performed over 2,000 concerts and released thirty recordings. In 1999 she began her pursuit of solo and collaborative projects in composition, improvisation, electronics, and multi-disciplinary performance. She has completed 20 compositions for cello many of these multi-media works. Currently she is developing the installation work ?ARIA? with collaborator Alessandro Moruzzi.

WILLIAM WINANT .."one of the best avant-garde percussionists working today" according to music critic Mark Swed (Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal), has performed with some of the most innovative and creative musicians of our time, including John Cage, Iannis Xenakis, Keith Jarrett, John Zorn, Rova, Anthony Braxton, James Tenney, Cecil Taylor, George Lewis, Steve Reich and Musicians, Jean-Philippe Collard, Frederic Rzewski, Ursula Oppens, Joan LaBarbara, Oingo Boingo, and the Kronos String Quartet.

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