New Exhibit Profiles Improvisation, Canadian Composers

August 04, 2009 - News Release

A new multimedia exhibit coming to the University of Guelph will allow people to see and hear how improvisation plays a prominent role in the creation of music.

Hearing-Visions-Sonores (Guelph Extension) will be at the U of G Library from Aug. 15 to Sept. 25. Featured in the exhibit are scores from Guelph-area composers Germaine Liu (in collaboration with visual artist Nick Loess), Joe Sorbara, Jesse Stewart, and Scott Thomson, as well as Quebec composers Sandeep Bhagwati, Brian Cherney, Andrew Culver, Jean Derome, Lori Freedman, Malcolm Goldstein, Joane Hétu, Robert M. Lepage and Danielle Palardy Roger.

The exhibit includes diverse, over-sized graphics of each composer’s score, complete with non-traditional symbols, images and text that convey information about the piece of music.

For example, Sorbara’s score for Ferris Wheels and Other Childish Nonsense consists of a seven-foot, scroll-style work that uses images and pictorial representations to indicate musical shifts, movements and textures throughout the piece. Liu’s graphic score for Stone Sketch documents in narrative and graphic form her intuitive and visceral explorations between and among touch, movement and sound.

There will also be audiovisual display stations where people can watch video interviews with the composers and listen to music clips. A website featuring an audio, visual, and text-based experience of the scores will also be available both during and after the exhibit.

Hearing-Visions-Sonores (Guelph Extension) is a joint effort of the U of G Library and the Guelph-based Improvisation, Community, and Social Practice (ICASP) research project, which is headed by English and Theatre Studies professor Ajay Heble. In 2007 Heble received a $4-million grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada to launch the initiative, which uses musical improvisation as a model for political, cultural and ethical dialogue and action.

The multimedia exhibit is a companion to the Hearing-Visions-Sonores exhibit on display at McGill University, which is a partner in ICASP. One of the project’s research components is to collect, catalogue and make publicly available the works of composers for whom improvisation is fundamental.

The Guelph exhibit will be formally launched Sept. 9 in conjunction with the Guelph Jazz Festival colloquium, which will be held on campus. The colloquium will include the premiere of a graphic score specially composed by Liu, Sorbara, and Stewart for the event and a roundtable discussion on graphic scores and structured improvisations.

For media questions, contact Jean Burrows, public relations officer, Improvisation, Community, and Social Practice, 519-824-4120, Ext. 53958, or For questions concerning the exhibit, contact Ashlee Cunsolo Willox, exhibit coordinator,, or Ajay Heble, project director,

University of Guelph
50 Stone Road East
Guelph, Ontario, N1G 2W1