Arena Improvisational Project

The Arena Project is an Erasmus-funded Intensive Programme (IP), and is set up to increase mobility for students and faculty from three partnering institutions and reinforce an existing collaborative relationship between the universities.

The intensive performance workshop brings together 13 students and 5 teachers from Universities of Salford and Stavanger, and Conservatorium van Amsterdam. The students form a contemporary jazz orchestra led by Norwegian/Italian composer Per Zanussi; all working together for two weeks leading up to a performance during the Maijazz International Jazz Festival in Stavanger.

The students and teachers work together in a variety of group settings; workshops, theory lessons, discussion-groups and seminars. The innovative aspects of the pedagogy lies in aspects like its transnational character, the link between workshop activities (theory and practical improvisational teaching), and the close collaboration with the music industries.

The IP proposes to play on the transnational cultural relationships in European jazz, and actively engage students and staff from three different nationalities (and cultural backgrounds) to engage in musical performance and pedagogical/didactic development within jazz in Higher Education. Jazz and transnationalism in a practical performance setting underlines the theme of the IP, where the added value for all participants is the bringing together of performers and teachers from a diverse range of cultural and pedagogical backgrounds.

In order to further develop jazz learning and teaching in Higher Education it is crucial that we take onboard the reality of jazz as a transnational “project”, and exchange practices actively through increased student and staff mobility – Arena incorporates these challenges into its pedagogy.

Two industry partners have been crucial in the planning and implementation of the project: Maijazz and Tou Scene.

Maijazz is a well established jazz festival with close links to the Department of Music and Dance, regularly hosting events involving up and coming students. Tou Scene is former brewery come art centre, which has been generous enough to include the IP in its residency programme – effectively letting Arena take over their facilities for the duration.

Follow the Arena Project here.