What is Vitamin-S? The Vitamin-S pool night was devised as a place where those interested in improvised music and performance could meet, perform, listen to and discuss, and generally interact with all aspects of this complex and largely misunderstood art form. As improvisation is the most widely practised of genres, it may be necessary to define two main forms:
- Idiomatic improvisation: much the most widely used and concerned with the expression of an idiom - jazz or flamenco for example, and taking its identity and motivation from that idiom.
- 2. Non-idiomatic improvisation: here other concerns are fundamental. It is usually found in so-called 'free' improvisation.
It is the second of these two forms that Vitamin-S is concerned to promote. There are three main tentacles by which Vitamin-S explores non-idiomatic improvisation:
- Random trios.
These trios, usually two per night, are drawn in advance from the Vitamin-S pool. Anyone can join (Go to: Join the Pool). Each trio performs for up to 45 minutes and there are few rules or constraints regarding the direction their improvisation might take, but it's worth noting that this is not a jam night or open mic night. Each improvised piece is a special and unique moment in time that will never be repeated and can only be experienced fully live at a Vitamin-S event.
- Organised ensembles, also exploring a defined theme, methodology, direction or approach to a given piece. These ensembles, such as 10 Acre Bloc, are comprised largely, although not exclusively, of pool members and tend to have more of a life outside Vitamin-S . The pieces are usually more structured, although not necessarily in a conventional or obvious sense.
- 3. Workshops. These workshops are run by invited guests and members and are an introduction to the language and methodology of improvisation. From June 2011, workshops will be held every fortnight before the Pool Night trios. After much thought and consideration it was felt that this was the best and most convenient way to promote increased involvement from the Vitamin S pool. Members of the Pool have been approached to present/facilitate each workshop, and will share their ideas about improvisation and techniques they find useful (if not indispensible). On these nights there will be only one randomly drawn trio, the second set being comprised of a workshop-derived group. Several of the workshops will also feature 10AcreBloc. 10AB is Vitamin S' large group improvising ensemble. These workshops will specifically explore techniques involved in performing in a large group.
Currently the make up of Monday nights looks like this...
*Week 1 Pool Night - two random trios.
*Week 2 Workshop/Pool Night - one random trio + w/shop-derived group.
*Week 3 Pool Night - two random trios.
*Week 4 Workshop (10AcreBloc focus)/Pool Night - one random trio + 10AcreBloc performance. *Week 1, etc.
In addition, whenever we have performers from other NZ centres or from overseas, we ask them to facilitate workshops for Vitamin-S members. These are always well attended, interesting and nothing if not thought provoking. So far workshops have been run by Anthony Donaldson and Jeff Henderson (Wellington), Susie Ibarra (New York), Eric Boeren (Holland), Manon-Liu Winter, Heinz-Peter Lindshalm/Petra Stump (Vienna), DJ Olive (NY) and Mats Gustaffson (Norway) amongst others. It's an opportunity to work with performers from all styles and experiences and to try out ideas - your own, or those brought in by others. The evening usually starts with an unstructured improvisation, following which ideas and pieces are explored. Bring an open mind, an ability to listen and a gold coin.
You can experience Vitamin S every Monday at the Wine Cellar, St Kevin's Arcade. And here's a quote to send you on your way: "Our music is about the inadequacy of traditional imagery and symbols to convey meaning in today's world. By abandoning representationalism we are free to express ourselves with pure form. Specific interpretation gives way to a more visceral response." from: Calvin and Hobbes