n Naples there is a Polish man called Michal Libera that has suddenly created Lethe, an opera buffa formed by noises collected in the Italian city, embedded with the music of the composer Luciano Cilio. Pierre Berthet, a Belgian living in Liège, makes music by playing with the sound of water droplets when they fall in different containers; also with the noises he gets thanks to inverted vacuum cleaners, and the hoses that connects to them, elements that move and chant several tubes, which gives a certain visual component to the invention. And Lee Patterson, an Englishman, warms up small plastic pots that are cooling on a metal plate with a series of contact microphones, which amplify and highlight the charms of the noise that accompanies this change in temperature.
Libera, Berthet or Patterson have presented their proposals in Barcelona in the framework of the activities of the group Improvisadors de Barcelona (IBA), that in 2018 celebrated its twenty years of existence. The founding parents of the entity were the musicians Agustí Fernández, Joan Saura -sadly passed away in 2012- and Liba Villavecchia, who shortly after would join the dancer Andrés Corchero. The Dilluns de Música i Dansa Improvisades at the Jazz Sí of the Workshop of Musicians (98-2001), and the existence of the Orchestra IBA formed by twenty elements (99-2001), mark the first years of activity of the group.
With the new century, the promoters leave their duties to Alfredo Costa Monteiro, Ferran Fages and Ruth Barberán, who will eventually remain solely responsible for the organization of the activities, a task in which he has collaborations and various complicities. Barberán, who joined the group in 1999, explains that “the original idea was to find a place where artists interested in improvisation could get together to play, and invite musicians like Evan Parker or Peter Kowald not only to make concerts but to play with them and, if there was time, to do workshops, talks… “. At the time of the foundation, he states, “the concept of improvisation was associated mainly with jazz. But those who came after we opted for more non-idiomatic improvisation, which does not have specific rhythmic forms, is not based on the basis of languages such as jazz, flamenco, rock, Cuban music… We focus on other aspects beyond the archetypes of rhythm, melody and harmony. We work with sound itself, the textures, the volumes… those are intrinsic elements of any kind of music, which normally are not explicitly worked”.
Summarizing the activity of the group Improvisadors de Barcelona (IBA) in these twenty years is impossible. Any attempt, however, will need to mention meetings, cycles and festivals like the “Mínim” festival (03-09), the “Minúscul” festival (04, 06 and 07), the curators function of Experimental Music Week at “Metrònom” (05), the “Com a Minim”, (10-12), “IBA recolza” (10-14), the encounter with mproviser musicians Bestiario (12), or the Homage to Joan Saura, in 2013.
Among the concerts, attention is drawn to what happened at the time of the tenth anniversary of the group, when all the musicians, activators and collaborators of IBA teamed up in the interpretation of the piece of La Monte Young Poem for chairs, tables, benches, etc. (1960). It should be noted that if dance had a significant presence at the beginning, in subsequent years there have also been proposals for cinema, computer image manipulation, lighting technology… and even individualized sound massages by French Pascal Battus.
At this time -and following a trend that is not unusual at all- the concerts promoted by IBA take place in private spaces and homes. Calls for those events are not secret -the group announces them in their blog and by other means- but with an interesting point of discretion: “We get interested in small places, suitable for these proposals, of which musicians are very fond of”, says Ruth Barberán. In fact, when they are on tour in southern France, Spain or Portugal, many of them ask us if we can include them. They value a lot the type of public, who is attentive and respectful. People which really are interested in this kind of music, and that once the performance has finished, have the opportunity to talk with the artist and ask about the different aspects of his work. There is a contact that is not offered in conventional concerts, where the musician performs on stage and leaves”. The festivals -adds, when emphasizing the suitability of these spaces- are showy, but what really is interesting for us is continuity, having activities all year round and giving the opportunity to the musicians to play there. We, ourselves, have toured in Europe a lot, because there are musicians who also organize events in private homes or other places such as record stores, libraries, libraries…”.
From the first day, all this activity is done without public financing, an aspect that was decisive for Ruth Barberán to enter the group: “When they told me that the idea was to work like that, I signed up immediately. Grants are a conditioner that ties you and does not allow you to do exactly what you want to do, or that forces you to do some things because you already received the money… “. Without profit or the intention of having it on the horizon, what is, then, the comeback for the organizer? Barberán is clear: “The comeback is that this scene may exist. That the musicians show what they do, that the public can see it, and that everything is done freely”.