Conference to explore significance of improvisation

Improvisation is not only central to music and art, in a world where the only constant is change, it has become a necessary tool to deal with society’s daily uncertainties. As rules, guidelines and planning becoming increasingly obsolete, qualities such as spontaneity, inventiveness and creativity become important to our lives.

A two-day conference will explore “Improvisation in the Arts and Everyday Life.” Hosted by the Department of German, Russian and East Asian Languages (GREAL), the symposium will be held April 10-11 at BGSU and downtown Bowling Green’s Clazel Theatre, 129 N. Main St. Throughout the event, experts on improvisation from various fields will address recent advances in the understanding of improvisation, its history and cultural significance, and its relevance in today’s society through performances, dialogues and seminars.

Conference organizers Dr. Edgar Landgraf, GREAL, and Dr. Rob Wallace, English/International Studies/Musicology, Composition and Theory, have put together a schedule that is packed with activities to learn, discuss and enjoy the concept of improvisation.

Among the highlights of the symposium are a performance by Nicole Mitchell’s Ice Crystal on Friday (April 10) at the Clazel; the keynote address Saturday morning (April 11) by George E. Lewis, the Edwin H. Case Professor of American music at Columbia University; “Convergence and Divergence,” a collaborative art project by Columbus, Ohio-based artist Curtis Goldstein on Saturday, and Jon Cowherd’s Mercy Project concert Saturday night, which is also part of the BGSU Festival Series.

Seminars and panel discussions will round out the schedule. The BGSU Ethnomusicology Forum hosts Travis A. Jackson, who will present “All the Things You Aren’t: Freedom, Collaboration and Utopia in the Discourse of Improvisation” on Friday afternoon in 1002 Moore Musical Arts Center. Saturday’s program includes a panel discussion on “Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Improvisation,” along with seminars addressing “Performance Studies and the Arts,” “Ethics and the Philosophy of Improvisation” and “Improvisation and Pedagogy.”

With the exception of the Cowherd concert, all of the events are free and open to the public.  

The event received generous support from the Ohio Humanities Council, BGSU and the BGSU Ethnic Cultural Arts Program. For more information on the conference, contact co-organizers Landgraf, at or 419-372-9517, or Wallace, at or 419-372-4252.

Updated: 01/28/2019 10:23AM