Dong-Won Kim, 2014 Improviser-in-Residence; Professor, Wonkwang Digital University:
When Rivers Meet allowed us to share our musical faith in each other, as well as our cultural and human hopes for each other. I offer my sincere gratitude to all my friends at Guelph and to the Musagetes Foundation, for helping me fulfill my musical vision. I’m also deeply grateful to all those who made the production of these bilingual CDs possible as a small testament to the musical vision we shared, perhaps as a model for others to dream their own dreams. I believe that music has a profound impact on life, just as life has a profound impact on music.
My life has certainly changed thanks to this performance.
How happy I am!
Dr. Joshua D. Pilzer, Ethnomusicologist, University of Toronto:
When Rivers Meet is a high point in that epic human effort. It finds him in profound musical conversation with many different kinds of performers. He guides them through an unpredictable sea of improvisation with a practiced hand and the courage and will to relinquish the wheel to others and to fate.
The structuring of this concert around performed stories is an elegant example of his efforts to make improvisation accessible to those of us who otherwise might not have a way in.
Dong-Won Kim ushers us gently into his musical world. That world is a reflection of the nature of life itself, the simultaneously structuring and fraying world of what he likes to call Chaosmos.
Adrien Potvin, The Ontarion:
In celebration of the spirit of improvisation, storytelling, and cross-cultural and cross-disciplinary dialogue ... A truly unpredictable, invigorating, and beautiful performance.
Georgia Simms, Dancer, Educator, Facilitator:
I feel extremely fortunate to have shared transformative, improvisational time in the studio and on the stage with Dong-Won Kim. I learned to quiet the internal voices of judgment and to listen to what was being offered—the music, the silence. There is an authentic response that is buried underneath many layers of expectation.
It took my full concentration to not just fill space with abstraction because emptiness is uncomfortable and fullness is vulnerable.
I had to let go and realize that I did not need to perform or be consistently interesting, to stop judging each moment for its worth as seen by someone else. Improvising, when it is really about connecting with whom you are creating, is not easy. But in those brief moments when it happens, it is magic.
Cheyanne Turions, Cities for People:
Challenging a caricature of improvisation as self-indulgent noodling, Dong-Won’s final gesture in Guelph asks me to recognize the ubiquity of improvisation in my own life. Improvisation is a familiar, fundamental human activity.
Our everyday ways of relating to each other—timing, intonation, gesture, posture—are all improvised.
People think improv is far away from what they do naturally, which is false. Improv is our natural way of being in the world; every being in the universe improvises. Dong-Won would say: "Even the sun!"
Judith Yan, Artistic Director, Guelph Symphony Orchestra:
The beginning of this project was a casual conversation between Ajay Heble and me, back in October of 2011. We were chatting about the possibility of collaboration between the Guelph Jazz Festival and the Guelph Symphony Orchestra. Ajay then described the exciting research he and others had been doing with the Improvisation, Community, and Social Practice (ICASP) project on musical improvisation as a model for social change, using one facilitator plus two or three musicians. I believe at that moment, we looked at each other and thought, 'Effects of improvisation on two or three musicians … How about a whole orchestra?'
By nature, symphonic orchestras are rule-driven and happiest when there are clearly set parameters. Although there are many classical works (dating back to the 17th century) that call for improvisation, there were always rhythmic and pitch-related guidelines involved.
We wondered, “What would happen if orchestral musicians were given just a textual outline, with the freedom to respond musically in any manner they wish?”
When Rivers Meet provides some tantalizing answers to this question.