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Published by Communications and Public Affairs (519) 824-4120, Ext. 56982 or 53338

News Release

February 25, 2004

U of G conference explores improvisation and the guitar

The University of Guelph is providing a forum for musicians and scholars to discuss the relationship between improvisation and the guitar March 5 and 6. The symposium is open to the public.

The “Symposium on Improvisation and the Guitar” organizers, music professors Howard Spring and Matt VanderWoude have lined up two concerts to complement the keynote speech and academic sessions delivered by international scholars.

“This symposium is unique in that it is organized around a performance practice on a particular instrument,” said Spring. “This provides an opportunity for scholars and performers from academic and performance fields that normally do not interact — including jazz studies, popular music studies,19th-century and Renaissance studies — to share their research and ideas. We expect that this interdisciplinary approach will yield exciting new directions in research.”

Lorne Lofsky, a Canadian jazz guitarist, recording artist and music professor at York University, will start the conference March 5 with a 8 p.m. concert at Manhattan’s Jazz Bar on Gordon street. Admission is $10. In addition to his own recordings, Lofsky has recorded with Oscar Peterson. Following his performance, Lofsky will participate in a round-table discussion on the parallels between folk, classical and jazz improvisational techniques and approaches.

The three academic sessions and keynote address March 6 in Room 107 of the MacKinnon Building are free. University of Calgary music professor Victor Coelho will deliver the keynote address, “Authenticity, Performance and History Across Guitar Cultures,” at 4 p.m. in Room 107 MacKinnon. Coelho, the editor of the just-released Cambridge Guide to the Guitar, is a widely-published author, lutenist and blues guitarist.

Session highlights:
9:30 to 11:00 a.m.
“Improvisation and the 19th Century Guitarist,” James Buckland, Converse College and Limestone College, United States.

“The Improvisational Style of Felix Leclerc,” Luc Bellemare, Laval University.

“Institutions and Improvisation: The Case of G.I.T.,” Brad Mahon, University of Calgary.

11:15 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
“The Botany of the Guitar,” Doug Larson, University of Guelph.

1:30 to 3:30 p.m.
“Stone Crazy: Electric Guitar Blues and the Phenomenology of Performance, 1947-1970,” Robert Sambat, Yale University.

“The Improvisational Style of Sonny Greenwich,” Andrew Scott, York University.

“The Sound of Hendrix,” Rob Van der Bliek, York University.

“Twang: The Guitar in Country Music,” Gordon Ross, York University.

“We hope that this conference will be the first stepping stone to the creation of a community of scholars who are now working largely in isolation in the area of guitar improvisation,” said Spring.

The symposium is being funded by the College of Arts, the School of Fine Art and Music and the university administration. For more information, visit the conference website,

For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs: Lori Bona Hunt (519) 824-4120, Ext. 53338, or Rachelle Cooper, (519) 824-4120, Ext. 56982.

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