One of the world’s premiere musical innovators on her instrument, Baltimore-based Susan Alcorn has taken the pedal steel guitar far beyond its traditional role in country and western swing music. Known among steel guitarists for her virtuosity and authenticity in a traditional context, Alcorn first paid her dues in Texas country & western bands.
Soon she began to expand the vocabulary of her instrument through her study of modern classical music (Messiaen, Varèse, Penderecki), the deep listening of Pauline Oliveros, Astor Piazzolla’s nuevo tango, free jazz, and world musics (Indian rags, South American folk music, and gamelan orchestra). Her pieces and improvisations reveal the complexity of her instrument and her musical experience while never straying from a very direct, intense, and personal musical expression. The UK Guardian describes her music as "beautiful, glassy and liquid, however far she strays from pulse and conventional harmony."
Her latest release, "Soledad" is available on Relative Pitch Records.
Joe Burgio is an explorer in time and space by way of improvisation. Fascinated by the possibilities of collaboration, the creative potential of structure, and the expressiveness of the body in movement, Joe has performed in churches, galleries, WWII artillery bunkers, outsider art-spaces and traditional black-box theaters. His approach to dance making fuses raw creativity with techniques drawn from multiple artistic and scientific disciplines. He leads Inedit, a multidisciplinary improvisational ensemble, and teaches Somatic Movement at Green Street Studios in Cambridge, MA.
Michael Evans is an improvising drummer whose work investigates and embraces the collision of sound and theatrics, combining ordered systems with intuitive choices of sound making using found objects, homemade instruments, the theremin and various digital and analog electronics. He has played kitchens as a Moving Sound Chef and has done foley for animated films created by visual artists Martha Colburn and Antje Van Wichelen. He performs frequently with Mitra Sumara, a New York based band that pays homage to the vibrant psychedelic, pop and funk music of the late 60's / early 70's pre-revolutionary Iran. He has toured worldwide with God is my Co-Pilot, is a current member of Fulminate Trio (with Anders Nilsson and Ken Filano) and EasSide Percussion (ESP) with James Pugliese and Christine Bard. He has performed on theremin as part of the various New York Theremin Society’s performances at Issue Project Room and Joe’s Pub. He has worked with a wide variety of musicians, performance artists, comedians and dancers nationally and internationally including Ron Anderson, Jeff Arnal, Claire Elizabeth Barratt, Roger Ely (the Devil's Chaueffeur), Nicolas Dumit Estevez, Neil Feather, Fast Forward, Gilbert Godfried, Alexander Hacke, Susan Hefner, Pamelia Kurstin, Skip LaPlante’s Music For Homemade Instruments, Lary Seven, Donald Miller, Karen Mantler, Gordon Monahan, Eric Mingus, Gino Robair, David Simons, LaDonna Smith, Talking Band, Mia Theodoratus, Jason Willett, Christopher Walken, David Watson, Davey Williams and Peter Zummo.
He and his partner, dancer /choreographer Susan Hefner (MESH) create work that blurs the dancer / musician roles.
Photo credit: Scott Friedlander
Susan Hefner began performing dance improvisation at the age of 16 with a group of multi-media artists in Birmingham, Alabama, including LaDonna Smith and Davey Williams. After graduating from Goddard College, she moved to New York City and toured worldwide with Nikolais Dance Theatre, earning solo roles and serving as the dancers’ union representative. Her work has been presented in many NY venues since 1989, including Roulette, the Chocolate Factory, the Flea Theater’s Music with a View, HERE’s American Living Room, One Dream, Dixon Place, Joyce SoHo, Danspace Project’s Food for Thought, One Arm Red, Improvised and Otherwise, as well as the Birmingham Improv Festival, Southern Danceworks, Phantom Theater, VT, and in Kiev, Ukraine. Her company has received support from the Harkness Foundations for Dance, Dance Ink, Meet the Composer, Inc., Manhattan Community Arts Fund, 2wice Arts Foundation, Alabama State Council on the Arts, the New England Foundation for the Arts, the Vermont Council on the Arts, and Dance Theater Workshop’s Outer/Space Creative Residency. Her duo with percussionist Michael Evans, called MESH, blurs the roles of dancer and musician, and has performed most recently at Experimental Intermedia and at Jack in NYC, at the Birmingham New Music Festival (AL), and in Europe at CUBA in Muenster, Mex in Dortmund, Kunsthaus Rhenania in Cologne, and Zuderpershuis in Antwerp.
Photo credit: Josef Astor
Ayako Kataoka is an artist originally from Tokyo. Her projects often focus on the realm of resonance, sound spatialisation and site ambiance; aesthetics and rituals in modern culture; and the semiotics of movement improvisation. Her work has been exhibited, performed, and screened nationally and internationally at venues such as; Electrogals Festival (PDX), High Zero Festival (Baltimore), Opensignal Festival (RI), San Francisco International Arts Festival (SF), The Stone (NYC), and Tokyo International Dance Video Festival (JP). Kataoka holds an MFA from Mills College, Oakland, CA, and is a recipient of the Frog Peak prize.
Paul Neidhardt plays percussion. He works as a music educator and dance accompanist in Baltimore Maryland. He has also helped co-organize the High Zero festival and Red Room series since 2004.
Margaret Paek, a collaborative dance artist, is inspired by connection and integration and sees dance as a life practice. She is a Lower Left artist (www.lowerleft.org) and is deeply influenced by her relationships with contact improvisation, Ensemble Thinking, Alexander Technique, Barbara Dilley, Nina Martin, Shelley Senter, Loren Dempster, and their daughter. Her cooperative and individual work has been presented in Mexico, Europe, and across the United States at venues including the Whitney Museum Biennial 2012. She has been on faculty at Movement Research, Marymount Manhattan, and Manhattanville Colleges in NYC, has taught around the globe, and recently relocated to Appleton, Wisconsin to teach at Lawrence University. Margaret has authored articles for Contact Quarterly and learning to loveDANCE more, served on Movement Research’s Artist Advisory Council, and is on the board of Marfa Live Arts. She received her MFA from Hollins University/ADF.
Andrea Pensado works with sound as a performer and programer. She studied in Argentina and Poland where she graduated in Composition with honors. However, her music started to gradually move from composition to improvisation.
Pensado plays solos and collaborates frequently with other improvisers. She performs extensively across the United States. She has been featured on numerous occasions in Europe and South America as well. The performances take place in all sorts of varied venues from regular concert halls to art galleries, clubs, lofts, basements, record stores and "house-shows". She has releases with Zeromoon, Feeding Tube Records, YDLMIER and Hidden Temples. Since 2010, she also runs Sonorium, a series of experimental music in Salem, MA, where she currently lives.
Pensado uses Max as her main programming tool. The voice is constantly interwoven in her music. The approach to programming and performance is highly intuitive. Occasionally, the combination of the performance situation, the often abrasive sounds, the irrational use of the voice and the inherent uncertainty of improvisations contributes to discoveries of unknown places in her mind.
From Birmingham, Alabama, violist /violinist, LaDonna Smith has been improvising on the international new music scene since the mid 1970’s, notably with musical partner, Davey Williams and other artists of TransMuseq Records.
As performer, educator, networker, editor and producer of the improvisor, LaDonna is actively devoted to keeping improvised music alive in spirit and practice. She has performed at concerts & festivals throughout the US, Europe, Siberia, India, China, and Japan, but hunkers down in her "sweet home" Alabama, when not touring.
There she teaches violin, and organizes on the local front, celebrating the 30 year anniversary of the improvisor, with a month long festival of concerts from NYC to Seattle, in many states across the South inclusive of regional artists interacting with the public in cross disciplines of improvised music, spoken word and dance.For fun, she writes, feeds birds, does large ceramic sculpture, hacks enormous bamboo poles out of her garden, and is working on the home front in historic cave preservation.
id m theft able/i'd m thfft able performs within and without the realms of noise, avant-improvisation, sound poetry, performance, et c. et c. et c. using voice, found objects, electronics, and whatever else is available......
He has given hundreds of performances across 4 continents in settings ranging from the scummiest of squats to the fanciest of festivals.
Walter Wright is an interdisciplinary artist whose practice includes computer programming, electro-acoustic music, and video performance. His focus is on "improvisation as a way of being present in the world."
Eun Jung Choi, featured as one of Dance Magazine’s 25 to Watch in 2012, is a movement artist who has been working professionally for the past 20 years in the United States, Mexico, and Korea. On January 2012 issue of Dance Magazine, Lisa Kraus wrote,“…she makes work that’s conceptually smart, physically exploratory, and virtuosically performed." Since 2008, she has been Artistic Co-Director of Da·Da·Dance Project, a duet repertory dance theater and has presented her work nationally and internationally. Eun Jung graduated with a master’s degree from the Interactive Telecommunications Program at NYU in 2003. In addition, she earned her MFA in Dance from Temple University. Recently she was certified in Thai Yoga massage.
Asimina Chremos is a Philadelphia-based artist, improvisor, organizer, and writer with interest in the continua between form and flow, nature and culture, repetition and change, and discipline and pleasure. She began her artistic career as a ballet dancer with the Pittsburgh Ballet Theater in the mid-1980's and received a BFA in Dance from Temple University in 1991. In the 2000's Chremos lived and worked in Chicago where she encountered and collaborated with many fine improvising musicians. Her current focus is on extemporaneous and experimental dance and art.
Photo credit: Steven Weisz
Loren Groenendaal is the founder, artistic director, and choreographer for Vervet Dance, a Philadelphia-based contemporary dance company. She earned an MFA in Choreography at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and holds a BA in dance and visual arts from Oberlin College. Her work has been performed in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, and Pennsylvania and presented by various organizations including the the Abington Art Center, the CEC including the New Edge Mix, Cultivate, Green Space Blooms, Inhale, Philly Fringe Festival, the North Carolina Dance Alliance, and the StudioSeries at Studio 34.
Loren is particularly interested in building unique movement vocabularies drawing from her experience with modern, Balinese, social, breakdance and contact improvisation, investigating the community building possibilities of live art, the spectrum between improvisation and composition, and the spectrum between ritual and performance. As an improviser, she explores free and structured improvisation, solo, in duos with musicians, and in larger groups. Her practices of dancing, teaching, improvising, and choreographing are being further informed by her studies of Laban Movement Analysis and Bartenieff Fundamentals.
Photo credit: Jen Kertis-Veit
From North America's west coast to the east, across Western and Eastern Europe, thru the Tuvan steppes of Siberian Mongolia to the Fuji Mountains of Japan, D.mHotep has traveled across the northern hemisphere [and into Brazil] for the past two decades: observing, hearing, performing, and learning music of the human earth.
Germaine Ingram is a jazz tap dancer, choreographer, song writer, and vocal and dance improviser. Her work channels styles and traditions she learned from legendary Philadelphia hoofer LaVaughn Robinson (19272008), her teacher, mentor, and performance partner for more than 25 years. Since her work with Robinson, she has created choreography for national tap companies; performed as a solo artist, and collaborated and performed with noted jazz composers and instrumentalists, as well as dance artists rooted in diverse genre. Through choreography, music composition, performance, writing, production, oral history projects, and designing and leading artist learning environments, she explores themes related to history, collective memory, and social justice. Her recent projects include an eveninglength production inspired by the establishment of the African Methodist Episcopal Church in Philadelphia in the late th Century; an hourlength performance piece for Atlanta, GA’s 150year commemoration of the 18 Battle of Atlanta, a turning point in the Civil War; and in April 2015, an eveninglength production of original music and dance for the VivaDanca International Festival in Salvador, Brazil. Currently she is a collaborator in an 18month, multidisciplinary exploration of how art addresses incidents of sudden loss of human life.
Photo credit: Nathea Lee
"I'm interested in what a musician can bring to the moment of creation..."
Dedicated improviser and electro acoustic pioneer, Bonnie Kane's music is formed from equal exposure to the avant-garde, hard core and the psychedelic.
Integrating saxophone, flute, feedback and electronics, her solo and group work traverse the genres of noise, free jazz and improvisation, psych rock, jam band, and bio-composition. She brought her "Fresh Sound Guarantee" to her first show at the Rochester Planetarium, performances at a Bosnian refugee camp, outdoor festivals, art spaces, rock, jazz, and punk clubs. She has toured nationally and worldwide, performing extensively throughout her Eastern USA base.
A bandleader since the 1990s, with over 30 releases, those she has performed and recorded with include: John Spencer, Tatsuya Nakatani, Chris Forsyth, Kevin Shea, Shayna Dulberger, Jeffrey Hayden Shurdut, Blaise Siwula, Ernesto Diaz-Infante, Chris Welcome, and Federico Ughi. New collaborations are continually evolving.
Happiest in 3 bands simultaneously, her current groups are the psych band, "Big Plastic Finger" with Scott Prato and Mark McClemens; noise/drone ensemble,"I'm With Joo Won" with Joo Won Park and Flandrew Fleisenberg; and the power trio, "Fire Maidens From Outer Space" with Reuben Radding and David Miller.
Photo credit: Renee Lynn
Levin grew up in Philly, but studied music and creative writing on the west coast at the University of Oregon. He took private lessons with a former Philadelphia Orchestra saxophonist, Michael Guera, and embarked on further research with the great jazz pianist, Cecil Taylor, in whose groups Levin has also performed. Claire Polin is Levin's primary instructor on flute. The weekend grocery list of Levin credits includes playing with Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes for a decade as the saxophonist in the Sound of Philadelphia band, as well as with Odean Popes' Saxophone Choir, Tyrone Hill, Don Preston, Scram!, New Ghost, Atzilut (Fourth World), Talking Free Bebop, and various collaborations with bassist Jamaladeen Tacuma. Levin's gigs with Taylor included the groups Phthongas and Unit Core Ensemble, and he can be heard on the Taylor FMP album Live in Berlin.
Julius Masri is a multi instrumentalist based in Philadelphia, and is a performer/ composer for the city's modern dance community at large. Born in Tripoli, Lebanon, he moved to the States in 1990, and picked up drumming a year later. He studied with famed Philadelphia instructors Carl Mottola and Elaine Hoffman Watts, and, as an undergrad at Bard College, AACM's Thurman Barker, Richard Teitelbaum, and Joan Tower. As a drummer, Julius has performed in such bands as hasidic punk group Electric Simcha, psychotic Ragtime duo Mahogany Stompers, Metal duo Night Raids, Van Sutra with guitarist George Draguns, (Don Caballero), and countless other endeavors. He also performs on circuit modified keyboards in duos such as Superlith, with Trombonist Dan Blacksberg (Anthony Braxton Quartet), Thurman Barker duo, and electronic music phenoms Charles Cohen and Joo Won Park. Julius has also composed and performed music for many Philadelphia based choreographers, and is currently working with Graffito Works dance collective.
Keir Neuringer is a Philadelphia-based saxophonist and composer whose work is underpinned by interdisciplinary approaches and socio-political contextualizations. He is best known for a personal and intensely physical saxophone technique, revealed through long form solo improvisations, as well as collaborations with a multitude of world-renowned and underground practitioners in jazz, avant-garde, noise, classical, theater, and dance disciplines. He has travelled extensively to present his work, appeared on numerous festival stages, and given workshops throughout Europe and North America. In addition to the saxophone, he plays analogue electronics and Farfisa organ, and sings and narrates text. He trained as a composer and saxophonist in the US, spent two years on a Fulbright research grant in Krakow, and then moved to The Hague, where he lived for eight years, curating performative audiovisual art and earning a masters degree from the experimental ArtScience Institute. Originally from New York State, he settled in West Philadelphia in 2012, where he lives with his family and is a member of the Books Through Bars Collective.
"...with Neuringer's music...mortal purpose is a given."
(Bill Meyer, September 2014 issue of Wire Magazine)
Photo credit: Peter Gannushkin
Catherine Pancake is an award-winning filmmaker and sound artist. Her work has been presented nationally and internationally in a wide variety of venues, including the Museum of Modern Art, Royal Ontario Museum, Baltimore Museum of Art, Academy of Fine Arts Prague and Big Screen Plaza, Herald Square NYC. Her awards include the Paul Robeson Independent Media Award, Jack Spadaro Documentary Award, Maryland State Arts Council Individual Artist Award, the Silver Chris, and Edes Foundation Emerging Artist Fellowship at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Her films have been broadcast in the U.S.A. and Great Britain (Sundance Channel, PBS, FreeSpeech TV, CommunityChannelUK) and are distributed by Bullfrog Films and the Canadian Filmmakers Distribution Centre. Sound art releases can be found on Ehse Records and Recorded in Baltimore. Pancake completed her MFA at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in May 2012. She is currently a Visiting Assistant Professor at Temple University in the Film and Media Arts Program. Pancake was recently commissioned by Goldsmiths at University of London to provide creative work for "Citizen Sense", a 1.5M (EUR) multi-year project directed by Dr. Jennifer Gabrys.
Bhob Rainey is an award-winning composer / performer, saxophonist, and sound designer. In 1998, with trumpeter Greg Kelley, he founded the duo Nmperign, which quickly became a model for a new phase of non-idiomatic improvisation often referred to as "lowercase" or "EAI" (Electroacoustic Improvisation). In 2000 he founded The BSC, an improvising large ensemble, in which he developed techniques for an improvisational discipline that were eventually outlined in his 2011 publication, Manual. Throughout the late 1990's and early 2000's he performed globally and collaborated with numerous improvisers of both the (then) current and previous generations, including Axel Dörner, Andrea Neumann, Günter Müller, Michel Doneda, Lê Quan Ninh, and many others.
By the mid-2000's, while continuing to work in the realm of improvisation, Rainey began to produce electronic and algorithmic works. He spent five years collaborating with German composer Ralf Wehowsky (RLW) on the 2007 release, I don't think I can see you tonight, which, along with Nmperign and Jason Lescalleet's Love Me Two Times (2006), established him as a formidable electronic composer who synthesizes streams of Musique Concréte, computer music, and improvisation.
Throughout his career, Rainey has sought out cross-discipline collaborations, working with dancers, filmmakers, and theater companies. From 2012-2014 he worked with theater company New Paradise Labs to create The Adults, which premiered at the 2014 Philadelphia Fringe Festival to much acclaim. He created the soundtrack to Leah Ross's 2013 film, Levitate, which premiered that year at the Rooftop Film Festival in New York City, and he performed live in Jungwoong Kim's and Marion Ramirez's site-specific dance work, Capsized, at the National Asian American Theater Festival in Philadelphia in 2014.
Rainey was awarded the Pew Fellowship in the Arts in 2013, and in 2014 he received a Subito grant from the American Composers Forum to complete a multimedia project with filmmaker Catherine Pancake. Among other things, he is currently working on a long-term project with New Paradise Labs dealing with radical contingency, as well as creating multichannel electronic works in collaboration with Chris Cooper under the moniker "Prants". To date, Rainey has over 30 releases as a leader or co-leader.
Leah Stein is a dancer, choreographer and teacher who creates site-inspired collaborative performance works. In 2001, she formed the Leah Stein Dance Company and whose site-specific dances have been performed internationally and throughout the United States and internationally in train garages, traditional Japanese houses, open fields, corner parking lots, historic sites, botanical gardens and burial grounds. Major works include TURBINE at the Fairmount Water Works in collaboration with composer Byron Au Yong and Alan Harler of the Mendelssohn Club Chorus, GATE at Eastern State Penitentiary, battle hymns at the 23rd Street Armory with a co-commissioned score by David Lang, Other People’s Children with Germaine Ingram, In Situ, created for the extraordinary DanceBase building in Edinburg, Scotland, and Rock, Reed, Tatami, Stream at Shofuso Japanese House and Garden. She has been supported by Leeway Foundation, the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts including three Fellowships in Choreography, an Independence Foundation Choreographic Fellowship, a Herald Angel Award at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland among others including several grants from the Pew Center for Arts & Heritage. "A Lily Lilies", a collaborative book of Josey Foo's poems and Stein's notes on dance was published in 2011. She has collaborated with numerous artists including long-standing artistic partnerships with Germaine Ingram, Toshi Makihara, Josey Foo and Roko Kawai, and Alan Harler of the Mendelssohn Club Chorus, and composer Byron Au Yong. Stein engaged in a year-long research project with singers and dancers guided by composer Pauline Oliveros in 2014. She has taught extensively at Swarthmore and Bryn Mawr Colleges and Drexel University and faciliates an annual residency in site-specific performance with high school students at Science Leadership Academy.
Photo credit: Lois Greenfield
Michele Tantoco is a dancer and movement educator living in Philadelphia, PA. Michele is a member of the Leah Stein Dance Company (2002) with whom she has performed in local/international outdoor, site-specific works as well as on-stage. She has collaborated with many choreographers including Megan Bridge, Shannon Murphy, Meg Foley, Jumatatu Poe, Kate Watson-Wallace, Myra Bazell, Charles Anderson, and Nichole Canuso. Michele holds a BA in biology from Bryn Mawr College and is engrossed in investigation of the human body through academia, performance, choreographic process and teaching and playing. Michele teaches yoga, pilates, and contemporary dance technique.
Photo credit: Lindsay Browning
Adam Vidiksis is an improvising percussionist and electronic musician based in Philadelphia. He has become known for exploring new timbral soundscapes in his performance practice, often using the computer not only as a means of enhancing and manipulating the sounds he produces, but as a digital performer on equal footing with its human counterpart. Vidiksis shapes sound with percussion instruments, home-made implements, found objects, and live computer processing. Vidiksis has been actively improvising as a soloist and in groups for over 15 years, performing throughout North America and Europe at institutions of higher learning, dive bars, and everything in between. He has improvised with many artists, including on-going collaboration with Keith Kirchoff, Toshimaru Nakamura, Mike Durkin/Renegade Company, Matthias Müller, and Joo Won Park. His work has received numerous grants and awards, including from ASCAP, New Music USA, the Institute for Computer Music and Sound Technology, and the Society of Composers, Inc. Vidiksis is also a composer and an avid educator, and currently serves on the music faculty of Temple University, where he directs the Boyer Electroacoustic Ensemble Project (BEEP).
Travis Woodson is a composer, arranger, improviser, and multi-instrumentalist who has collaborated with various Philadelphia musicians and dancers. You may have seen him perform in Make a Rising, Sonic Liberation Front, Electric Simcha, Split Red, Adult Content, his own group Live Like a King, and/or Pyramid Minds. During the summer of 2012, he premiered a series of compositions and arrangements for three guitars, as a part of the Archer Spade Performance Series.
Described 25 years ago as an "undergrounder by design," Jack Wright is a veteran saxophone improviser based in Philadelphia but living in Easton PA. In 1979, after an academic career at Temple University and activist politics he returned to the instrument of his youth. Almost immediately he found himself playing freely, which he has done exclusively since then. He plays mostly on tour through the US and Europe in search of interesting partners. Now at 72 he is still the "Johnny Appleseed of Free Improvisation," as he was called back in the 80s, continuing to inspire players. He plays sessions with players old and new at his Spring Garden Music House, and does university workshops across the country.
Preferring small, DIY situations, he has been able to avoid the standard career. The partners he's preferred over the years have also been little known to the music press, too numerous to list. His current focus is with the local underground scene, the most promising of whom are Zach Darrup, guitar, Jim Strong, invented instruments, Ben Bennett, percussion, and Joel Kromer, electronics.
A reviewer for the Washington Post said, "In the rarefied, underground world of experimental free improvisation, saxophonist Jack Wright is king."
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