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Making the Changes: Ethics and the Improvising Business

In the parlance of jazz improvisation, the phrase “making the changes” refers to the ways in which a group of musicians work together to spontaneously navigate a harmonic progression. The notion of “making changes” can be brought to bear in a business framework as well. Just as a group of improvisers must collectively negotiate musical changes, changes in the marketplace demand a similar kind of collaborative response. Moreover, in the fallout from the ethically vexed speculative investing that led to the dotcom crash of 2000 and the 2008 mortgage crisis (and with an eye to growing ethical activism in the consumer base), the communitarian ethics that attend to improvisatory performance practice have become increasingly intriguing to corporations of virtually all stripes.

“Making the Changes: Ethics and the Improvising Business” explores the intersection of business management, improvised music, and social ethics. The symposium brings together leaders in the fields of cultural studies, management, ethnomusicology, business ethics, and music performance to address issues that emerge from the intersection of improvisation and business management.

When: Friday, December 2nd, 2011 1-6 pm plus evening events 7-10 pm

Where: Macdonald Stewart Art Centre, 358 Gordon Street, Guelph, Ontario

Cost: All events are FREE and open to the public


1-6 pm 2nd floor lecture room

Keynote: R. Keith Sawyer, Professor of Psychology and Education at Washington University in St. Louis
Nancy J. Adler, S. Bronfman Chair in Management at the Desautels Faculty of Management, McGill University
Ken Aldcroft, guitarist, improviser, composer, co-founder of the Association of Improvising Musicians Toronto
Alan Convery, National Manager of Community Relations, TD Bank
Pete Johnston, bassist, improviser, composer, ethnomusicologist
Mark Laver, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Improvisation, Community, and Social Practice
Chris MacDonald, Visiting Scholar at the Clarkson Centre for Business Ethics and Board Effectiveness, Rotman School of Management; Professor of Philosophy, St. Mary's University
Scott Thomson, trombonist, improviser, composer, co-founder of the Association of Improvising Musicians Toronto

Book Launch

7 pm

Community of Rights – Rights of Community, Daniel Fischlin and Martha Nandorfy


8-10 pm

Featuring Ken Aldcroft, Pete Johnston, Mark Laver, Joe Sorbara, Scott Thomson, and the Contemporary Music Ensemble

Thanks to our sponsors

University of Guelph
Department of Philosophy

Download the symposium poster here

Musical improvisation is a crucial model for political, cultural, and ethical dialogue and action.

– Ajay Heble