NowHere Festival presents exploration of improvisation
Michael Evans and Susan Hefner, two of the NowHere Festival performers | photo by Scott Friedlander

Organization is, to a large degree, anathema to free improvisers. But a contingent of local musicians, dancers and presenters have overcome their resistance to form the Impermanent Society of Philadelphia, an organization dedicated to promoting the improvisational arts.

The group was co-founded by Flandrew Fleisenberg, a percussionist, “player of objects,” and recent transplant to Philly; and Steven Tobin, curator of the Fire Museum Presents series, the city’s primary provider of experimental sounds these days despite a domino-like succession of closing spaces.

The ISOP will host its inaugural event, the NowHere Festival of Free Improvisation in Sound & Movement, at the Mascher Space Cooperative from October 19-25. The weeklong event will feature a series of adult master classes and youth education opportunities, a panel discussion, and scholarly presentations, culminating in a quartet of performances featuring local and national music and movement artists.

The concerts bring together stalwarts of the local scene like saxophonists Jack Wright and Elliot Levin and dancers Leah Stein and Germain Ingram; younger improvisers such as saxophonist Keir Neuringer, guitarist Travis Woodson, percussionist Julius Masri, and dancer Eun Jung Choi; and guests from across the country including pedal steel guitarist Susan Alcorn, violinist LaDonna Smith, Tokyo-born dancer Ayako Kataoka and ID M Theft Able on “himself.” The performers will combine in a series of different configurations for four performances over three days, embracing the spontaneity and ephemerality implied in both the name of the new organization and the festival itself.

Watch videos of some performers below and pick up tickets to the festival here. Discounted tickets for artists, students, and seniors will be available at the door.

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