For two months this spring, the
Institute will present a unique look at the art of
improvisation with a mini-festival titled Peabody Explores
... the Art of Improvisation, featuring classical and jazz
concerts, opera and dance performances,
lecture/demonstrations and associated events.
Peabody Explores is an initiative, launched last
season with the Second Viennese School, that focuses
artistic programming and academic curriculum on one
specific aspect of the musical experience. With
performances by faculty, students and guest artists in
recitals, large and small ensembles and multidisciplinary
collaborations, the series highlights the breadth and depth
of artistic creativity and innovative presentations that
audiences have come to recognize as distinctly Peabody.
While many people associate improvisation mostly with
jazz, the art form has been an integral part of the musical
spectrum for centuries. Early-music composers often
sketched out their scores in an open-ended way, allowing
performers to play an important role in the creative
process. In the 19th century, virtuoso artists used the
cadenza of a concerto to showcase their own inventive
skills; in opera, singers enjoyed similar latitude to
embellish arias. Many 19th-century Romantic composers,
among them Liszt and Chopin, gave recitals in which they
composed works as they went along.
Classical music then went through a period of becoming
more "fixed" in performance until a 20th-century wave of
experimentation saw many composers creating works that
provide performers with opportunities for artistic freedom,
often with multimedia collaborations, and improvisation
again came to the fore.
Peabody Explores ... the Art of Improvisation will
offer a broad spectrum of performances and events.
Contemporary music ensembles will perform works
illustrating the improvisational cutting edge, the Peabody
Opera Workshop will present an evening of new works
generated by a process of group improvisation, and the
Peabody Dance Spring Showcase incorporates new choreography
resulting from improvisatory interactions between dancers
Many of the events will be free of charge, including
lecture/demonstrations featuring particular instruments,
such as cello, organ, harpsichord and voice.
The series begins on Saturday, April 1, when Audrey
Chen will give a performance of voice and cello
improvisation at 6:30 p.m. in Griswold Hall. At 7:30 p.m.,
also in Griswold Hall, the Peabody Camerata will perform
works by composers with highly original voices. Director
Gene Young has chosen Schoenberg's arrangement of Debussy's
Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun; Georges Aperghis'
Recitations and Terry Riley's influential In C. Both events
For a complete list of events, go to