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Dr Ana Almeida & PhD student Una MacGlone improvising with sculpture by Dr Cath Keay at Concurrent#1
Dr Ana Almeida & PhD student Una MacGlone improvising with sculpture by Dr Cath Keay at Concurrent#1

The Concurrent Research Network, which is funded by the Royal Society of Edinburgh to explore interdisciplinary improvising through research and practice, has held its first public event at Edinburgh College of Art (ECA). 

On 16th January 2016, 130 people came together at the Reid Hall for a programme of workshops, discussions and experimental performances by leading UK exponents and experts.

Musicians and dancers explored listening and improvisation with saxophonist Dr Franziska Schroeder (Queens University Belfast), and Dr Adam Linson (IASH) discussed improvisation as a common approach with chef Fiona Burrell (Edinburgh New Town Cookery School), skateboarder Ali McKenzie (Skateboard Scotland) and explorer Dr Alice Eldridge (University of Sussex).

Later, Dr Peter Lovatt (University of Hertfordshire) and Dr Tara French (Glasgow School of Art) brought the audience to its feet and into full song to tackle barriers to improvisation while, in a final workshop, music therapist Nicky Haire and dance therapist Suzi Cunningham (NHS Lothian) took the unprecedented step of improvising together outwith a therapeutic environment, discussing the implications of this unusual context and collaboration with fellow therapists Dr Philippa Derrington (Queen Margaret University) and Professor Vicky Karkou (Edge Hill University).

Presenting a new work Stones, Clouds, Dr Graeme Wilson, Professor Raymond MacDonald & Dr Cath Keay (ECA) improvised live with Dr Schroeder, dancers Dr Ana Almeida and Dr Sophia Lycouris and bassist Una MacGlone (ECA) and visual artist Emma Bowen (Garage gallery).

The interdisciplinary group responded to Keay’s sculptural interpretations of German Expressionist Wenzel Hablik’s drawings, devised to render Wilson & MacDonald’s recent psychological model for group improvising as a 3D score.

Glasgow group Collective Endeavours delivered a spellbinding improvisation between electric guitar, harp and two dancers. Professor PA Tremblay, Rodrigo Constanzo and Simon Fell (University of Huddersfield) generated group improvisations using Constanzo’s innovative dfscore system, involving dancers and displaying the software through projection for the first time.

A final improvisation by collaborators brought to a close an electrifying day of new ideas and directions for research.

The Concurrent Research Network is funded by the Royal Society of Edinburgh to explore improvisation between performing arts practitioners over a two-year period (March 2015 - April 2017). It is led by Dr Graeme Wilson (Principal Investigator) and Professor Raymond MacDonald (Co-Investigator). 

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Group improvisation in Reid Concert Hall at the close of Concurrent#1
Group improvisation in Reid Concert Hall at the close of Concurrent#1
Image courtesy of Full Zoom Photography