Spring 2024 Improvisation Workshops

NOW Workshops

Spring 2024 at 8EAST 


4 - 5:30pm Saturday January 20

2 - 3:30 pm Sundays March 10 & March 24 and Saturdays March 16 - April 27

We will also be presenting a free Narcan Training session on May 4


FREE with NOW Membership, Donations gratefully accepted (here).

for up to 15 participants


Since 1978, the New Orchestra Workshop Society (NOW) has presented music improvisation workshops, offering space for exploration and participation. Our workshops are for improvisers of all levels of ability and ranges of experience, regardless of gender, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, age, race or religion. We protect privacy in our workshops and adopt the We Have Voice Collective Code of Conduct. Read more about NOW workshop policies here.

These workshops will be presented in person at 8EAST. Find out more about each workshop facilitator below.


​Improvisation workshops

January 20 - Chris Corsano
4 - 5:30pm

photo: Forest Elkin

CHRIS CORSANO is a New York-based drummer who has been working at the intersections of free jazz, avant-rock, and experimental music since the late '90s. He's a rim-batterer of choice for some of the greatest contemporary purveyors of "jazz" (Joe McPhee, Mette Rasmussen, Zoh Amba) and "rock" (Sir Richard Bishop, Bill Orcutt, Jim O'Rourke), as well as artists beyond categorization (Björk for her Volta album and world tour, Michael Flower, Okkyung Lee). Appearing on over 180 albums and touring in an ultra-wide array of collaborations, he's a renowned solo performer in his own right, with a record due out later this year on the Drag City label. He's built a highly inventive musical language through ecstatic free improvisation, extended percussion techniques, and the augmentation of his kit with circular-breathed reeds and bowed strings that coax new resonances out of the drums' heads. Corsano's been called "one of the world's great drummers" by The Guardian, an "ace of the avant-garde" by The New York Times, a "powerhouse drummer" by Rolling Stone, and "arguably the most riotously energetic and creative drummer in contemporary free jazz" by Wire MagazineSpin ranked him as one of the "100 Greatest Drummers of Alternative Music," and in 2017, he received the Foundation for Contemporary Arts Grants to Artists Award. 



March 10 - Jonah Parzen-Johnson

2 - 3:30pm

Photo: Julius Töyrylä

Jonah Parzen-Johnson makes music for baritone saxophone & flute that challenges listeners with experimental textures & forms while embracing them with warm approachable melodies. A Chicago native and longtime Brooklyn resident, Jonah has performed solo in more than a dozen countries across four continents. You might find him at Jazz festivals in Berlin, Helsinki & Seattle, concert halls in Istanbul & Bruges, rock clubs in Rotterdam, Montreal & Rome, or Jazz clubs in New York & Chicago. His solo performances are a deeply intimate experience, as he endeavors to share who he is, how he sees our world, and the temporary moments of community that we can all embrace together. https://jonahpj.com/

March 16 - Brittany Anjou

2 - 3:30pm


Brittany Anjou is a New York based pianist, keyboardist, improviser, composer, vocalist, and vibraphonist. Anjou has toured and recorded with The Shaggs, Jeremy Pelt, Elysian Fields, Oren Bloedow, Sophie Auster, CHRISTEENE, and many others. She is looking forward to performing in Vancouver for only the second time. She composed and produced acclaimed albums Enamiĝo Reciprokataj / Reciprocal Love (Origin Records), Bisexual Tyrant (hardcore punk project Bi TYRANT), and Nong Voru / Fake Love (Chant Records) with Ghanaian xylophonist Alfred Kpebesaane. Anjou served as director of jazz on the faculty of the Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmed Cultural Center Music School at the Kuwait opera house from 2018 - 2020. She recently completed an MA in Music Psychology, Education and Wellbeing with merit from the University of Sheffield (‘21), where she conducted a study and thesis on the mental health of NYC musicians. She loves improvisation and Prospect Park. 



March 23 - Éric Normand and Philippe Lauzier

2 - 3:30pm


photos: percus and RAB

Éric Normand is an improviser, bassist, instrument designer, composer, songwriter, singer and record and concert producer. As an improviser, he develop a personal and radical playing on a homemade electric bass equipped with mics and objects feedbacking and vibrating in small electronic devices, creating electric flux interrupted by the instrumental gesture. With this set, he prefer to play duets, with Jim Denley (flute and sax), Philippe Lauzier (bass clarinet and sax), Xavier Charles (clarinet), Pierre-Yves Martel (viola de gamba and electronic), Jean-Luc Guionnet(saxophone), in addition of several spontaneous encounters.

Composer, clarinetist/saxophonist, sound artist, teacher and summer sailor, Philippe Lauzier lives in Montreal. His adventurous practice often manifests itself in collaboration with improvisation, but also through written forms, electroacoustic and interdisciplinarity. Instrumental preparation/transmutation by the involvement of interactive sound objects is a major interest of his work. In this field of experimentation, he has created two instrumental sound installations in the past years, Pianotissage (2019) and Gritty (2014). Over fifteen albums that involve his music, he has produced four solo titles including Transparence [Schraum, 2013], Dôme [Small Scale Music, 2016], A pond in my living room [Sofa, 2017] and Contreplaqué [Bandcamp, 2021].


March 24 - Bonnie Whiting

2 - 3:30pm

photo: Titilayo Ayangade

Bonnie Whiting (she/her) performs and composes experimental music, seeking projects that involve the speaking percussionist, improvisation, and non-traditional notation. Recent work includes an evening-length song cycle for speaking percussionist composed by Eliza Brown and 10 musicians incarcerated at the Indiana Women’s Prison, performances on the original Harry Partch instrumentarium, collaborations with Torch Collective, and concerti with the National Orchestra of Turkmenistan. Her debut album, featuring a solo-simultaneous realization of John Cage's "45' for a speaker" and "27'10.554" for a percussionist" was released by Mode Records in 2017, and her second album, Perishable Structures, launched on the New Focus Recordings label in 2020. Whiting is a core member of the Seattle Modern Orchestra and she has performed with the country's leading new music groups: Ensemble Dal Niente, International Contemporary Ensemble, Talea Ensemble, and red fish blue fish percussion group. She is Chair of Percussion Studies and the Ruth Sutton Waters Associate Professor at the University of Washington in Seattle.  


March 30 - Andromeda Monk

2 - 3:30pm

Andromeda Monk is an improviser, composer, and general and sound creator & listener residing on the unceded lands of the Musqueum, Squamish, and Tsleil-waututh nations. She plays synthesizer, woodwinds, and no-input mixing board, and her approach to improvising is informed by a mixture of jazz, minimalism, and noise, with a strong focus on melody. 


April 6 - Johanna Hauser

2 - 3:30pm

Johanna Hauser, clarinets, is grateful to live on the unceded territories of the Coast Salish peoples. Standing with local First Nations to protect the environment, she has participated in actions resulting in two arrests and one conviction for criminal contempt. Johanna has recorded for the CBC and the NFB and enjoys working with an eclectic mix of composers on everything from classical music to progressive rock to free improvisation. As music director of the Kits Classics and Carnegie Classics concert series, Johanna has produced and performed in well over a hundred chamber music concerts in Kitsilano and the Downtown Eastside. Johanna began her career in New York City performing with Dance Theatre of Harlem, the Brooklyn Philharmonia Chamber Players, and the Group for Contemporary Music.


April 13 - Lisa Cay Miller

2 - 3:30pm

Presently living on the unceded Territories of the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), Tsleil-Waututh, and Musqueam peoples, Lisa Cay Miller (she/her) is an improvising pianist and composer who loves to create in the moment. Dr. Lisa Cay is the Artistic Director of the NOW Society, and is so honoured to have been part of the NOW workshops for a number of years. lisacaymiller.ca


April 20 - Theo Girard

2 - 3:30pm

Théo Girard: Théo started playing music at the age of 6 and the double bass at 16. In 2005 he went to Banff (Canada) to take part in the famous jazz workshop directed at the time by Dave Douglas, and in 2010 he founded Discobole, which would become the company behind his projects (30yearsfrom, Bulle, Pensées Rotatives, ...) and a label (35 albums). As a leader, he is very attached to interaction and improvisation, and takes particular care to create forms that include the audience, such as his large circular ensemble Pensées Rotatives. Based in Paris, he loves to travel the world to discover the artists who bring creative music to life. 


Feature Workshop and Training


April 27 - Hand Drum and Singing Workshop

with Deanna Gestrin and Russell Wallace

2 - 3:30pm



Hand drumming and singing workshop offered in collaboration with the Vancouver Youth Choir and the New Orchestra Workshop Society. This Feature workshop of our series was led by local Indigenous leaders and musicians, Deanna Gestrin and Russell Wallace. Rooted in cross-cultural connection and song stories, Russell and Deanna will share hand drum songs, round dance, and will engage the circle in song-sharing and vocal explorations.


May 4 - Narcan Training Session with Gary Davison

2:00 - 3:30 pm

Please join us for this very special workshop, a training in how to administer Naloxone. With these skills you may save a life!

This event will be free for up to 15 people. It is possible to reserve a place in the workshop here.

Gary Davison has worked in the Vancouver DTES (Downtown Eastside) as a social justice advocate, both at InSite as a Community Educator with VCH (Vancouver Health), and Provdence Health as a research assistant for OAT (Opioid Agonist Treatment) and Heroin-assisted programs.
This workshop will combine a brief summary of toxic supply and health care trends to help attendees better understand the population. A Narcan training session with emphasis on the need for self-care while administering will follow. Drop in attendance for up to 15 additional will be available the day of the workshop. Light refreshments will be served following the workshop.