April 17, 2008

SIUC percussion lecturer to give improvisation concert

by Andrea Hahn

CARBONDALE, Ill. — By day, Room 112 in Altgeld Hall on the Southern Illinois University Carbondale campus is a simple band room.

But when the Southern Illinois Improvisation Series (SiiS) comes calling, it becomes an experimental test site for improvised music.

Ron Coulter, percussion studies lecturer and the force behind the series, presents a multi-faceted performance beginning at 7:30 p.m. on Sunday, April 20.

He plays percussion, electronics and operates a PowerBook G4 for this performance. Coulter adds performance art to enhance the music. Susannah Bunny LeBaron and Diana Tigerlily, both graduate students in the Department of Speech Communication, join him with costume and performance art. Undergraduate student Adrian S. Webster-Cooley supplies text and rap.

Coulter is also the formative force behind the fledgling Southern Illinois University Improvisation Unit (SiUiU), an SIUC ensemble launched this spring.

That group takes over the band room beginning at 7:30 p.m. on May 2. Coulter describes the ensemble as "one of the few of its kind in the academic world."

"While improvisation is the oldest and most widely practiced form of musical activity known to man, it is often the least understood, appreciated and represented in academic settings," he said. The ensemble, then, re-examines preconceptions of music, explores "generative modes of musicking" and re-examines the very fundamentals of what defines musical instruments and musical performance.

Performances are free. Come with an open mind.