Prof. Sarath writes:
[Improvisation, Meditation, and Integral Theory: New Horizons in Contemplative Education] will present core ideas from my new book, Improvisation, Creativity, and Consciousness: Jazz as Integral Template for Music, Education, and Society (SUNY/Albany, 2013). The book is the first to apply to music principles of an emergent, consciousness-based worldview called Integral Theory and poses potentially important ramifications for contemplative education—which I regard as among the most exciting and promising developments in the academic world. Central is the interplay between improvisation and meditation as contrasting yet complementary epistemologies that promote creativity-consciousness development. The jazz tradition boasts a long legacy of innovators who have engaged with contemplative disciplines in order to more fully integrate the heightened episodes of consciousness invoked in their improvisatory excursions into their music and lives. In addition to yielding a rich process template for contemplative development, the jazz-inspired integral framework also offers a sophisticated theoretical framework that may be important to contemplative education’s next evolutionary strides. Among the areas addressed by the integral framework are the value of integration of theory and practice, trans-traditional models of contemplative/consciousness development that recognize powerful connecting threads across lineages while also celebrating differences, and tools that help aspiring contemplatives navigate their way through the often-overwhelming smorgasbord that defines contemporary spiritual life.
Ed Sarath is Professor of Music in the Department in Jazz and Contemporary Improvisation, of which he was the founding faculty member and chair (1987-2007), at the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre and Dance. Active as performer, composer, author, and educational innovator, he is also Director of U-M’s Program in Creativity and Consciousness Studies, an interdisciplinary network of colleagues interested in the inner workings of creativity and its foundations in consciousness. He founded and serves as President of the International Society for Improvised Music (isimprov.org), an organization devoted to promoting awareness of the importance of improvisational studies in musical training and improvised music in today’s diverse world. His most recent book—Improvisation, Creativity, and Consciousness: Jazz as an Integral Template for Music, Education, and Society (State University of New York/Albany, 2013)—is the first to apply principles of an emergent, consciousness-based worldview called Integral Theory to music. As flugelhornist and composer, he has performed and recorded with top names in the field and across the globe. Among his five CD releases is New Beginnings, featuring the London Jazz Orchestra performing his large-ensemble compositions. He is a fellow of the National Endowment for the Arts (three-time NEA fellow, twice in performance, once in composition), the American Council of Learned Societies, the Ford Foundation, and the National Center for Institutional Diversity.
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