Scholars in fields as diverse as anthropology, psychology and linguistics are beginning to provide new perspectives on improvisation. “Many are now asserting the realization that the practice of improvisation is by no means limited to the artistic domain, but is a ubiquitous aspect of everyday life,” says Columbia University composer and author George E. Lewis.
Professor Lewis was named the Department of Music’s Ernest Bloch Professor in residence for Spring 2013 and as such he presented a series of lectures on this topic during his residency, addressing key themes and issues in new improvisation studies, such as in ethics, social identity, technology, and interactivity among others. Lewis’ residency at Cal featured the world premiere of a new sextet for the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, and a performance of his octet “Ikons” by the Eco Ensemble, both in February 2013.
The recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship in 2002, an Alpert Award in the Arts in 1999, fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, and most recently, a 2011 USA Walker Fellowship from United States Artists, Lewis studied composition with Muhal Richard Abrams at the AACM School of Music, and trombone with Dean Hey. His work as composer, improviser, performer and interpreter explores electronic and computer music, computer-based multimedia installations, textsound works, and notated and improvisative forms, and is documented on more than 140 recordings. Lewis is the Edwin H. Case Professor of American Music at Columbia University.
Professor Lewis’s widely acclaimed book, A Power Stronger Than Itself: The AACM and American Experimental Music (University of Chicago Press, 2008) is a recipient of the American Book Award and the American Musicological Society’s Music in American Culture Award. He is the co-editor of the forthcoming two-volume Oxford Handbook of Critical Improvisation Studies.