My work as a curator- hosting concerts, putting together ad-hoc ensembles, running art shows, and planning a festival- is deeply connected to my work as an educator.
I first started curating with Sonic Sunsets in 2019 at a nature center (The Discovery Center) in Strawberry Mansion with scenic views of the water reservoir, a reverberant hall, and an attached kitchen from which I serve freshly baked food. Sonic Sunsets got press attention and combined elements of our DIY free improvisation and electronics scene with cutting edge jazz.
In 2022 I started curating in South Philadelphia with an emphasis on inter-media collaboration with Dancers and Visual Artists, resulting in a series called PONDora’s Fish Sauce Bottle, which was initially meant to be but one show. We sold out the venue and I knew I was onto something. We got covered in the Philadelphia Inquirer.
I’m now at the point in my journey where I’m looking to train other show throwers, so I can focus on doing big performance projects with multiple moving parts. Performances such as my Breath and Spectre ensemble which is an enacting of Anthony Braxton’s Ghost Trance Music, Einstein’s Hat for dancer and visual arts, an Aviary Fashion Show, or the Supply's 3 chambers performance which involves a site-specific internally roving and rearranging ensemble.
I founded the People’s Music Supply for this reason. It is a platform to centralize curation, education, and promotion . A selective history of my curatorial activities can be found at the People’s Music Supply. While my present day activities can be found here.
Education is about recruiting people directly from the audiences, facilitating their interest with light instruction, but more often direct interaction and participation. There is no playing wrong, but there is playing which makes people enjoy being there, and there are many ways to achieve that. Though one skill above all is important: listening.
Learning the “social aspects” of free playing helps one move about with this burgeoning scene. Everytime I play with someone, whether old or new, I learn something deeper about myself and am challenged. I am connected to them in my style and they connect to me.
Participating in and listening to hundreds of sets a year is an essential part of the growth for any musician. It is a culture of practice first and foremost. Helping bring new improvisers (who were themselves once primarily listeners) into the scene has given me a wealth of options as a curator.