A Week in Vienna

IMG_0306The second part of my Sabbatical Semester (a wonderful invention for academics) is research projects and workshops in Europe on “The Jam Session Model for Group Creativity and Entrepreneurship”. This is a project that I started initially with my mentor David Baker who helped with a series of detailed interviews and surveys. The goal was to analyze the components of a jam session with the goal of generalizing the model for group creativity – here is the initial publication and results. I’m more than thrilled to be able to continue this project towards creating a toolbox for group entrepreneurship. Currently several publications and a Book Coverbook are in progress as well as course development at IU. But how did this get me to Europe? The plans started due to my collaboration with Entrepreneurship Professor Maksim Belitski at the Henley School of Business in Reading and with expansions towards presentations of the model for the Cultural Management Certificate at the University of Vienna and a workshop at the IU Gateway Office in Berlin. And the added benefits? Adding some extra time in each city to immerse myself into the jazz scene and culture of each city. First stop was a week in Vienna – here is the diary!

After a long overseas flight I arrived in Vienna on Tuesday afternoon. I found my hotel just across from IMG_0314the University of Vienna got some groceries at the nearby Billa and tried to catch up on the night of sleep lost. On Wednesday, I navigated my way to the University of Music and the Arts to meet with the leaders of the Institute for Popular Music to discuss some collaboration ideas. Professor Martin Fuss met me and I got to sit in some of the lessons – a wonderful and warm teacher! I also enjoyed getting access to a practice room for a while and chatting with the friendly secretaries. In the evening I met with fellow jazz researcher Michael Kahr and we spent a lovely evening at the Jazzclub Zwe. Thursday became a work day and trying to overcome jet lag – I actually completed the last chapter for my Chick Corea book!

On Friday I had a lovely lunch with Leonie Hodkevitch, the organizer of the Cultural Management IMG_0315Certificate and in the evening met Matthias Ruegg, leader of the Vienna Arts Orchestra and co-founder of the world’s premier jazz club Porgy and Bess. Matthias showed me some fascinating projects he’s working on – taking the song cycles of Schumann and Schubert and transforming them into works for jazz IMG_0327orchestras with vocalist Lia Pale. The music is brilliant, sophisticated, challenging – absolutely amazing! Matthias took me to Porgy and Bess to see the Shai Maestro Trio. Shai is from Israel and lives in New York – the trio is a modern collaboration deeply rooted in improvisation and exploring odd meters. I was mesmerized by the collaborative spirit, explorations, and musicianship though the quality of composition sometimes lacked a bit. A very inspirational evening!

IMG_0340On Saturday I manged to get hold of a piano for a couple of hours and really enjoyed practicing and writing down some new musical ideas. From 1-4.30pm I presented my workshop to the Cultural Management students. A mini version is posted here from an IU Lightning Talk. We had a IMG_0354fantastic time exploring creativity and the jazz model. Of course, there is never enough time to spend on all the concepts, but we had wonderful discussions and everyone is refining their ideas and projects. The feedback was overwhelmingly positive – really enjoyed the experience! In the evening I decided to explore the light installations in the Museum Quartier – Wien leuchtet – it was worth it. Since the evening was young I decided to find the third jazz club in Vienna – Jazzland. The club was packed due to a 80th birthday celebration of one of their beloved heroes. Many musicians had gathered to pay tribute – the music was swinging the birthday boy played along and stole the show in every way. The last set was a jam session and I actually got to sit in and make many new friends. An interesting additional realization was a flashback to some major issues with Women in Jazz – see my story on facebook if you’re curious.

IMG_0352Since I didn’t get home until 3am, I needed a bit of catching up on sleep on Sunday. I also had access to the piano again and enjoyed an extended practice session. In the evening, I made my way to the Haus of Musik – a museum dedicated to the creation of music and the musical traditions of Vienna. Prominent Viennese Composers Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, SchuIMG_0358bert, Schumann, Mahler, Strauss, and more are featured as well as detailed histories of the leaders of the Vienna Philharmonic. In addition, there are interactive stations for learning about sound creation and the physics of sound. I concluded the evening playing on their beautiful grand piano in the lobby. There is such a wealth of culture in the city – every step feels like a step back in history. Of course there is so much more to see – hopefully there’ll be an opportunity to come back soon!