Ensemble to bring the joy of musical improv to the community

For Anthony Viscounte, it’s a singular experience: get a group of musicians together with varying experience levels, genre preferences, and instruments of choice – and then set them loose on an extemporaneous adventure. 

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“The feeling one gets when creating music, seemingly out of thin air – music that has never existed before that very moment that one begins to improvise – is second to none,” says the multi-instrumentalist and composer, who runs the Viscounte Academy of Music in Horsham.

Starting this Saturday, Viscounte, alongside fellow performing singer-songwriter and music educator Peter Poulos, will be offering area instrumentalists and singers the chance to explore that magic when they launch the Joy Jam Improv Ensemble at the Scatter Joy Center for the Arts in Horsham.

Over six sessions slated for the first and third Saturday of the month, the collective will gather to create music and jam on standard songs ranging from pop and hip-hop to jazz and blues. The ensemble will rehearse these tunes biweekly while learning different improvisation techniques. Every member, whether a novice or seasoned improv performer, will share in the music-making process.

“We believe the Joy Jam will bring the community of musicians together in an environment that will nurture creativity and musical growth while creating a fun musical experience for everyone involved,” says Viscounte, who offers private and group lessons in his studio, located at the Scatter Joy Center.

A graduate of Hatboro-Horsham High School and Berklee College of Music, he has authored several college text books on music theory and improvisation technique and also offered clinics on the art of improv over the years.

Poulos, beyond his extensive background as a performer and recording artist, has been teaching songwriting, improvisation, music theory and more for over 10 years.

As experienced musicians, both appreciate improv’s invitation to push their musical boundaries while cultivating a greater imagination.

“It gives the musician a chance to have their own unique voice heard rather than reading existing musical notation that is already set in stone,” says Viscounte. “Musicians will have to listen to one another and will partake in a musical dialogue that is a language all its own.”

While players of all experience levels are welcome to join the Joy Jam Improv Ensemble, it is suggested they have at least a prior year or two of private lessons on their primary instrument, as basic lead sheets, chords and melodies will serve as a guide. But that doesn’t mean Poulos and Viscounte aren’t willing to guide the less tutored in the art of spontaneous composition.

“Anytime musicians are performing in a room with other like-minded players, they grow and create new music they might not have normally created on their own,” says Viscounte. “I hope that…they will better themselves as well as the entire ensemble every time they step foot in the art center.”

The semester will culminate in a public performance during the final session, with each artist receiving a recorded copy of the event.

Joy Jam sessions take place from 3 to 5 p.m. at the SJCA, 305 Horsham Road, Horsham, on the following dates:

February 6th

February 20th

March 5th

March 19th

April 2nd

April 16th

The cost is $150.

Registration and payment can be made here or at the center.