Bending Toward Justice: Improvisation, Freedom, and the Arts

2 min read

Although we often think of improvisation in an artistic context, improvisation in fact plays a central role in our lives, informing our behavior during social interactions, playing sports, and in moments of protest and civil disobedience.

Harvard University Committee on the Arts (HUCA) is sponsoring a symposium, “Bending Toward Justice: Improvisation, Freedom, and the Arts,” on the power of individual and collective improvisation at moments of crisis, turmoil, and social change. The symposium, held at the Harvard Art Museums on April 9, 1-3:30 p.m., is presented in conjunction with the Fromm Players Concerts, Creative Music Convergences, on April 7 and 8.

“I organized this symposium to help contextualize the Fromm Players Concerts, which I also curated, and offer a relationship to other campus conversations and events, including the Black Lives Matter movement and ‘I, Too, Am Harvard,’” said symposium moderator, acclaimed jazz pianist, and professor of the arts Vijay Iyer. “I wanted to connect the centrality of improvisation in Black musical aesthetics to its centrality in all of our lives, and to examine the presence and importance of improvisation in various social, political, and historical realities.”

Panelists include Fred Moten, professor at the University of California, Riverside; Danielle Goldman, assistant professor of dance at The New School Lang; Daphne Brooks, professor of African-American studies and theater studies at Yale; Wadada Leo Smith, a composer and trumpeter who will be performing in the Fromm Players Concerts; and Matthew Leslie Santana, a Harvard graduate student in ethnomusicology. Admission is free.