(first tuesday of the month)

7:00pm: doors / setup
7:30pm: workshop starts
Things wrap up around 10pm

@ Community Education Center
3500 Lancaster Ave
Philadelphia, PA


*To help us plan for the session, registration is requested. Just let us know that you are planing to come by sending an email to: Registration is free.
Bowerbird is excited to offer Open Sound, a monthly workshop series devoted to exploring the creative potential of free improvisation and the artistic and philosophical framework in which this art form takes place. These workshops will take place on the first Tuesday of each month at the Community Education Center, and are open to anyone, regardless of experience level or artistic background, free of charge.

We think it's important for the community to grow - not just in size, but in its depth of understanding. We want this workshop to be a consistent and open forum for the exchange of ideas and concepts, one that's outside the pressures and scrutiny of public performance, but in an atmosphere that welcomes new people and new ideas. We also think it's important to provide a platform for our more distinguished artists to share their knowledge and experience with the rest of us - you may not always agree with them, but they certainly have some interesting ideas worth considering.

Find out more about the next session >>>
This workshop is open to anyone, regardless of experience or background that is interested in experimentation. You should be excited to explore and discuss things openly, and shouldn't be afraid to try new things, take risks, and even fail on occasion. If your musical background is as a jazz, rock, noise, world, or classical musician, we want you, but be prepared leave your conventions and push the frontiers of non-idiomatic free improvisation. For the now, we're going to focus on sound makers, but soon we'll open it up to movement artists as well. If you are completely new to this sort of thing and you still might be a little intimidated to participate, we invite you to come and just observe a session or to get in touch with us and ask any questions you might have.


Each month will feature a different guest presenter, conducting a workshop, leading a focused discussion, offering feedback, or some hybrid of all that - but always inspiring us with their particular artistic perspective and delving into topics that really matter to them. Some of the workshop will be very structured, some will be more open - but it's important that you're able commit to being there the whole time. Each session wil be a little different, but an evening might go like this:

7:00pm: Access to Theater Begins
7:00pm – 7:30pm: Load in and set up
7:30pm – 8:15pm: Guest artist presentation
8:15pm – 9:00pm: Led workshop activities (hands-on activities)
9:00pm – 9:15pm: Break
9:15pm – 10:15pm: Open session (playing, discussions, etc., with guest artist feedback)
10:15pm – 11:00pm: Break down and clean up

Each individual should bring everything they need to participate - including instruments, amps, extension chords, tables, carpets) - and be able to load in / set up (and break down / load out) in about 30 mins.

You are probably going to do equal parts listening and playing during these workshops, mostly likely in varied groups and in shorter sets. If you typically play a complicated set of electronics, guitar with dozens of pedals, or a huge drum kit, you might consider a more limited setup for this workshop. You might also want to think about the different types of players that might show up - and particularly the dynamic range associated with that. In other words, you should plan on being able to mix with both the quieter and medium-loud instruments (let's skip super loud for the workshop).
Setup begins at 7:00pm. Workshops begin at 7:30pm sharp. Workshop take place on the first Tuesday of the month. Dates for the 2009-2010 season are: December 1, January 5, February 2, March 2, April 6, May 4, June 1.

Tuesday, December 1
Guest Artist : Jack Wright

Our inaugural session will feature Jack Wright as our guest artist. Jack is one of the world's most experienced (he has been a full-time saxophonist of strange music since the late 70's) and well-traveled free improvisers and a regular on the Bowerbird concert series. He plays both tenor and soprano sax, but in ways that would be pretty surprising to most. He's been based, in varying degrees, in the Philadelphia region for a couple of decades, and has been influential on numerous generations of young players. While Jack makes great music, he's also a philosopher, and spends much time thinking about questions of solo versus group playing, the shift between private and public playing, and the interplay between these ideas. More can be found out about Jack on his website:

Tuesday, January 5
Guest Artist : Toshi Makihara

Our second session of OPEN SOUND features one of the region's most prolific and celebrated improvisers - percussionist Toshi Makihara. During 2009 Toshi Makihara performed solo improvisation everyday (using a simple 1-drum-1-cymbal setting), and uploaded the video clips onto YouTube. Each solo is 5-10 minutes long, and there are 365 pieces performed through 2009. This project was featured in the City Paper and on the CW Philly News. We'll take this chance to talk with Toshi about this project and the challenges he faced and discovers he made during the course of the year, and we'll use lots of time for playing and listening.

February 2
Guest Artist : David Brick

The February session of OPEN SOUND takes a new direction as we welcome David Brick, dancer, choreographer, and co-artistic director of Headlong Dance Theater. David's first movement vocabulary was sign language and he later studied modern dance at Wesleyan University where he came in contact with the musical revolutionaries Alvin Lucier and Anthony Braxton. For this workshop, we'll tap some of David's great insight into world of improvisation, including his work on the ideas of physical interaction, listening and response, the use of space, and levels of awareness. Be prepared to move around a bit - as a way of plugging into to different ways of listening and experiencing rhythm in space, especially in an improvisational context. But don't worry - the movement wont be more complex than walking!

March 2
Guest Artist : Audrey Chen

For the March session of Open Sound we are extremely excited to welcome Audrey Chen.  Audrey is part of an unbelievable thriving music scene in Baltimore – but also spends a huge chunk of her time performing all over the world (even Siberia!).  Audrey’s path to being a full time experimental musician is an interesting one – and we like to think of it as a success story.  Audrey was born into a family of scientists, doctors and engineers but parted ways with the family convention and turned to the cello at age 8 and voice at 11. After years and years and years of conservatory training she eventually parted ways with the classical tradition in search of a more individual and honest outlet for her creativity. Now, using the cello, voice and analog electronics (she’s still totally got her cello chops – and she makes some totally insane, other-worldly sounds with her voice), her approach to music is more improvised and extremely personal and visceral.

April 6
Guest Artist : Barry Chabala

Topics will include graphic text scores and their relationship to improvisation with examples from Cardew's Treatise, Cage, Jez Riley French, Michael Pisaro and more. Barry Chabala (b.1961) - New Jersey guitarist, influenced as much by Jimmy Page as he is by Derek Bailey. Barry's music has gone from mixing equal quantities melodic invention and atonal free play to, more recently, playing a much more reduced, evolved and sharply focused music, ever closer to the essence of his intention. His work with composer Michael Pisaro over the passed few years has yielded "an unrhymed chord(for 25 acoustic guitars)" for Confront Recordings and the Winds Measure cassette release of "black, white, red, green, blue (voyelles)", a piece for solo electric guitar and a remixed version by Pisaro adding tape hiss and sine tones.

May 4
Guest Artist : Nate Wooley

A diverse and distinctive creative voice, trumpeter Nate Wooley is at once home in the other-sounds-world of textural abstraction and the out but more-easily-explained-to-your-grandmother world of modern jazz. When Dan Warburton of the Paris Transatlantic recently asked Nate what he had coming up, this was his response: “A couple of things just came out on Clean Feed: the Daniel Levin quartet live at Roulette, and Transit Quadrologues, with Jeff Arnal, Seth Misterka and Reuben Radding. Seven Storey Mountain will be out in September on Important and the duo with Joe Morris early next year, also on Clean Feed. Paul and I have just finished the second duo record which I will mix here in Düsseldorf and hopefully have out by the end of the year. I'm excited about the new quintet; playing some more harmonic based music with that group has been really more special than I thought it would be. In September I'll be on the road in Poland with Tim Daisy's Frakture Quartet, October at the Send + Receive festival in Winnipeg with Jeff Allport and Ami Yoshida, November is the Unerhört festival and in December there's a very small duo tour to Portugal with Lytton” You can read all of last Spring interview with Nate here.

June 1
Guest Artist : Nicole Bindler

For the June session of Open Sound, we once again visit the world of dance to look at some alternate ways of thinking about music. Nicole Bindler is a dancer, choreographer, improviser, curator, educator and has been a regular performer on the Bowerbird concert series since it's inception. Where most of dance artists make use of improvisation as an aspect of broader artistic explorations and choreography, Nicole has focused a majority of her career on exploring improvisation as a unique form, and has amassed a particularly celebrated roster of musical collaborators. Be prepared to move around a bit - but don't worry - the movement won't be more complex than walking! This session is targeted towards sound makers but dance artists are welcome and encouraged to attend.



Community Education Center
3500 Lancaster Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19104

Enter through the main theater entrance: the door at the top of the stairs on the right as you are looking at the CEC.


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This program is made possible through a grant from the Stockton Rush Bartol Foundation.

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