Call for Proposals for Improvisation Conference

Announcing a new conference!
Improvisation in Historical Styles: Performance, Pedagogy, and Research
Conference Announcement and Calls for Proposals
November 19-20, 2022 Online

This conference will explore current developments in the performance, pedagogy, and research of keyboard, vocal, and instrumental improvisation from the Renaissance through the Romantic eras.

Such an exploration is timely. The rediscovery of partimento has resulted in musicological and theoretical insights, as well as new pathways of musicianship training. Improvisers’ increased visibility on the concert stage invites us to reconsider the place of improvised music alongside standard repertoire. Recent interest in the pedagogy of improvisation with young students, adult amateurs, and aspiring professionals challenges the dominance of rote learning models.

This conference will bring together performers, researchers, and teachers from around the world to address these matters.

In its inaugural year the conference will be held online. Presenters and attendees will receive registration information well in advance of the event. Conference registration will be free and open to all interested persons.

Call for Proposals: Performance, Research, and Pedagogy


The Program Committee invites proposals for presentations related to historical improvisation performance. Presentations in this category will emphasize the actual performance of improvised music for voices, keyboard instruments, or melody instruments in solo or ensemble settings. Presentations will include a live improvisation on video along with spoken discussion and/or demonstration of the methods and resources behind the performance (e.g., discussion of style, which elements of the improvisation are completely spontaneous vs. those which must be partly planned, strategies for practicing, helpful treatises, etc).

Proposals should include an abstract (limit 500 words) and a video example of the proposer’s improvisational ability (limit 7 minutes). The abstract should explain what kind of music is to be improvised should the proposal be accepted (instrumentation, style, era, etc) and provide a brief overview of relevant methods and sources. The video example should not be the same improvisation ultimately submitted for the conference (if accepted), but should demonstrate skill sufficient to assure the Program Committee that the proposal can be accomplished at a high level.

Improvised music must be in a recognized historical style from the Renaissance through the Romantic era. The video example submitted with the proposal may be a previously existing improvisation that has been publicly available. However, if the proposal is accepted, a new improvisation, unique to this conference, must be performed.
Due to the impracticality of anonymizing video performances, proposals in this category will not be considered anonymously. Therefore, there is no need to remove identifying information from submitted materials.

Proposals may be submitted by sending an abstract and link to a video example to [email protected]. Example videos must be submitted as a link to a third party hosting service such as YouTube, Vimeo, Dropbox, etc. Permissions must be set so that videos are accessible to the Program Committee. Videos must be free of advertisements of any kind.

The deadline for proposals is August 15, 2022. Decisions on acceptance of proposals will be complete by September 15, 2022. Final presentation videos must be uploaded by November 1, 2022.

Research and Pedagogy

The Program Committee invites proposals on topics related to research on keyboard, vocal, and instrumental improvisation from the Renaissance through the Romantic eras, and historically oriented pedagogy of improvisation (either as it was taught in the past or how it could be taught today).

Research and pedagogy proposals will be evaluated as separate categories; authors should clearly indicate the category into which their proposal falls.

All proposals will be evaluated anonymously and should exclude the author’s name and any other direct or indirect signal of authorship. References to the author’s own work must occur in the third person. “Author” tags must be removed from electronic files. (In Adobe Acrobat, go to the “File” menu, select “Properties” and delete the name from the Author box.) Any online materials included in the proposal must also be anonymized. Proposals may not exceed 500 words.

A submission for a single-author or joint-author paper must include the title and description for a presentation of maximum 20 minutes duration. The description (including any footnotes) should be no more than 500 words. Please also include up to five relevant and specific keywords; recommended are names of composers, theorists, methodologies employed, repertoires discussed, or anything distinctive to the proposal.

Proposals may include appended supplementary materials (such as musical examples, diagrams, hyperlinks, and selected bibliography) as necessary to substantiate an argument, demonstrate results, or clarify the proposal’s relationship to prior scholarship. The examples may include text annotations, and texts that are themselves analytical objects, such as quotations from treatises, archival documents, or translations are also acceptable; however, any text in the supplementary examples and captions should serve only to illuminate arguments already present in the 500-word proposal and should not introduce new examples, explanations, or evidence. Supplementary materials must not exceed four pages.

The deadline for proposals is August 15, 2022. Decisions on acceptance of proposals will be complete by September 15, 2022. Upon acceptance, authors will be required to upload a video of them reading their paper by November 1, 2022.

The author need not be visually present in the video if so desired; instead the video may consist of a screen-capture of a Powerpoint presentation, for example. All videos will then be posted online publicly so that conference attendees may watch them before the live session. At the live session, the authors will therefore not read their papers, but instead will participate in a Q&A session moderated by the session chair. Conference attendees will be able to propose questions electronically during the session. A video of the session will subsequently be posted online publicly for archival purposes, as will authors’ videos of their papers.

Summary of requirements
• The proposal must be anonymous.
• Proposals: max. 500 words including footnotes, but not including bibliography or supplemental examples. Max. 4 pages total.
• Keywords: max. 5
• Submission deadline: August 15, 2022
• Submission email: [email protected]
Include the following information in your email:
• Email subject: “Conference Proposal: Pedagogy” or “Conference Proposal: Research”
• Author name(s)
• Paper title
• Institutional affiliation (if applicable)
• PDF file of the anonymous proposal

Conference Organizing Board


Nicola Canzano (USA) Harpsichordist, organist, noted specialist in baroque improvisation and composition, guest lecturer at University of Michigan, The Juilliard School.

Ewald Demeyere (Belgium) Harpsichordist, conductor, early music specialist. Chair & Professor, Early Music Department at IMEP (Namur), Professor at AP (Antwerp).

John Mortensen (USA) Fulbright Global Scholar, Steinway Artist, professor, author of The Pianist’s Guide to Historic Improvisation and Improvising Fugue.


Nicole di Paolo (USA) Lecturer, Indiana University. Pianist, Composer, Teacher, Editor, Arranger. Author of Venturing Beyond and Vignettes for student pianists, among other works.

Derek Remeš (Switzerland) teaches music theory at the University for Applied Arts and Sciences in Lucerne, Switzerland.

Yiheng Yang (USA) Faculty, The Juilliard School. Director of the Academy of Fortepiano Performance and the International Fortepiano Salon. Pianist, Historical Keyboardist, Teacher.


Kevin Korsyn (USA) Professor of Music Theory, University of Michigan, author of Decentering Music, A Critique of Contemporary Musical Research (Oxford, 2003) and Imagining Fragment X: Completing Bach’s Art of Fugue and Other Fugal Works (Oxford, forthcoming).

Giorgio Sanguinetti (Italy) Professor in Music Theory and Analysis at Tor Vergata University, Rome. Author ofm The Art of Partimento. History, Theory and Practice (Oxford, 2012), recipient of The Wallace Berry Award (2013).

Peter van Tour (Netherlands) Associate Professor in Music Theory and Analysis at Örebro University (Sweden). Author of Counterpoint and Partimento: Methods of Teaching Composition in Eighteenth-century Naples (Uppsala, 2015).

Conference Board of Advisors

Robert Levin
Robert Gjerdingen
Peter Schubert
Nicolas Baragwanath
Johnandrew Slominski
Noam Sivan
Tobias Cramm
Matt Bengtson
Sietze de Vries
Nicoleta Paraschivescu
Dana Marsh
Jeroen Malaise
John Salmon
Peter Sykes
Nathan Mondry

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