Ingrid Laubrock © 2022 Efrain Ribeiro

Frederick Experimental Music Association (FEMA) announces its first concert series – IF: Improvisers Forum – beginning October 15th at the Frederick YMCA Arts Center in Frederick, Maryland. Funded by a grant from the FAC/National Endowment for the Arts Create and Activate Now (CAN) program – and curated by author, critic, and Frederick resident, Bill Shoemaker – IF features internationally renowned improvising musicians performing as duos.

Concerts are scheduled for Saturday evenings and will begin at 8pm at the Frederick Y Arts Center, located at 115 East Church Street, with doors opening at 7:30. Suggested donations are $10, with free admission to children and students with ID.

Pending future mandates in Frederick, wearing masks is recommended. Seating will be arranged to facilitate distancing without diminishing the concert experience.

Michael Formanek © 2022 Efrain Ribeiro

15 October 2022: Susan Alcorn, pedal steel guitar, and Robert Dick, flutes

Susan Alcorn:
Susan Alcorn has extended the pedal steel guitar far beyond its traditional role in country music, exploring jazz, tango nuevo, and other idioms. She has collaborated with numerous iconic musicians like Pauline Oliveros and Evan Parker. In 2017, she received the Baker Artist Award; in 2018, she and her long-time collaborator Joe McPhee won the Instant Award in Improvised Music.

Robert Dick:
Robert Dick is to the flute what Jimi Hendrix was to the guitar, an artist who introduced new worlds of sound. His trademarked Glissando Headjoint allows for voice-like pitch fluctuations and his use of multiphonics and his palette of timbres are unparalleled, particularly on the seldom-heard bass and contrabass flutes.


5 November 2022: Michael Formanek, double bass, and Brian Settles, tenor saxophone

Michael Formanek:
Double bassist and composer Michael Formanek has led some of the more acclaimed jazz ensembles of the past 25 years, including his Elusion Quartet, Very Practical Trio, and the 18-piece Ensemble Kolossus. His compositions have been supported by Chamber Music America, the Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation, and other institutions.

Brian Settles:
Since earning his Masters of Music from Howard University, Brian Settles has become an in-demand tenor saxophonist, performing in acclaimed ensembles like Luke Stewart’s Silt Trio. The New York Times identifies Settles as “one of several young improvisers [who are] insightful and invigorating.”


18 March 2023: Taylor Ho Bynum, cornet, and Jacqueline Kerrod, harp

Taylor Ho Bynum:
One of the more accomplished under-50 improvisers and composers in the US, cornetist Taylor Ho Bynum has led ensembles varying from sextets to 15-piece orchestras on 20 critically acclaimed recordings. He is the director of the Coast Jazz Orchestra at Dartmouth College. He contributes to The New Yorker.

Jacqueline Kerrod:
Harpist Jacqueline Kerrod has toured internationally with NEA Jazz Master Anthony Braxton. She has performed with such renowned contemporary music ensembles as the International Contemporary Ensemble. She has a Masters of Music and Artist Diploma from the Yale School of Music.


1 April 2023: Ingrid Laubrock, saxophones, and Tom Rainey, drums

Ingrid Laubrock:
Saxophonist Ingrid Laubrock was named a “true visionary” by pianist and Kennedy Center artistic director Jason Moran, and a “fully committed saxophonist and visionary” by The New Yorker. She has received the BBC Jazz Award for Innovation and commissions the Fromm Music Foundation at Harvard University and other funders.

Tom Rainey:
Percussionist Tom Rainey has literally played with jazz greats from A to Z, from John Abercrombie to Denny Zeitlin. He is the recipient of composition and performance grants from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Susan Alcorn © 2022 Efrain Ribeiro

IF: Improvisers Forum seeks to introduce and familiarize audiences with improvised music. Improvisation is the world’s most widely practiced music activity, a prominent feature of such diverse genres as jazz and North Indian classical music. The term “improvised music” denotes music created without the use of formal templates like blues or ragas. Improvised music is spontaneously generated, its form and substance solely dependent on the real-time abilities of musicians to listen and respond to each other – it is often likened to tightrope walkers working without a net. Improvised music is as diverse as the musicians who practice it. Some improvisers have backgrounds in jazz and other forms of popular music; others have backgrounds in classical music.

The musicians participating in IF are internationally renowned for their virtuosity and creativity. Each concert will present musicians who have demonstrated fluency in various idioms, and the ability to bring a diversity of musical and life experiences to the unique, unfolding musical moment.

Frederick Experimental Music Association, Inc. is a Maryland non-profit corporation.

For more information about FEMA and IF, contact Bill Shoemaker at


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