Improviser-in-Residence Brings Music, Eclecticism to Guelph

May 16, 2013 - News Release

The University of Guelph will introduce its third improviser-in-residence, Rich Marsella, during a public event downtown May 25.

Marsella will perform at Musagetes, 6 Dublin St. S., Ste. 103, from 7 to 9 p.m., with Friendly Rich and the Lollipop People.

Lollipop PeopleHis three-month sojourn on campus is sponsored by U of G’s Improvisation, Community and Social Practice (ICASP) and by Musagetes, a Guelph-based organization fostering community and culture through art.

ICASP is a seven-year-old collaborative research project on musical improvisation as a model for social change, funded mostly by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.

It’s headed by Ajay Heble, a professor in U of G’s School of English and Theatre Studies and artistic director and founder of the award-winning Guelph Jazz Festival. He said Marsella has “a solid reputation for working directly with the community through music impact projects.

“Having Marsella work with the project strengthens our commitment to diverse musical multiplicity and collaboration through the promotion of improvisation and dynamic exchange with the cultural, communal and creative community of Guelph and beyond.”

Marsella, known as Friendly Rich, is a composer and avant-garde musician from Brampton, Ont. Known for his eclectic style, he has composed and produced nine albums and been featured on CBC Radio, MuchMusic, and MTV’s The Tom Green Show.

He runs a record label called The Pumpkin Pie Corp., and records and tours with his ensemble, The Lollipop People, especially in Europe.

Marsella is the founder and director of the Brampton Indie Arts Festival, and director of the Regent Park School of Music.

For his master’s degree in music at the University of Toronto, he studied instrument construction and parade pedagogy.

At U of G, Marsella will work with local groups and musicians, and will run workshops and ensemble performances to promote community-building and diversity through improvisation.

“It’s a chance to connect with Guelph in a way that I’ve always dreamed of,” Marsella said. “There’s something special in Guelph, and I want to tap into it and celebrate it with this project.”

He plans to study Russian composers during his residency.

He will hold monthly concerts at Silence, 46 Essex St., and a Halloween concert on campus, and will perform at the Guelph Jazz Festival, Sept. 7 at noon, at St. George’s Church.

Previous improvisers-in-residence at U of G were Jane Bunnett, Miya Masaoka, Scott Thomson and Susanna Hood.

Kim Thorne
Project Manager
Improvisation, Community, and Social Practice
519-824-4120, Ext. 53885

For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs: Lori Bona Hunt, 519-824-4120, Ext. 53338,; or Kevin Gonsalves, Ext. 56982,

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