The New Improvisers Studio with Shahzad Ismaily

Apr 22, 2024

Open Call


May 31, 2024 at 11:59 p.m. PDT

Western Front and Coastal Jazz are pleased to present The New Improvisers Studio, a free week-long educational initiative for up to twelve young musicians aged 17 to 24.

The New Improvisers Studio supports collective explorations in musical improvisation through the mentorship of a world leading improviser and invited guests from the Vancouver International Jazz Festival. This year the Studio will be led by the acclaimed multi-instrumentalist Shahzad Ismaily, with invited guests Sakina Abdou, Matthew Ariaratnam, Meredith Bates, Claire Devlin, Aviva Endean, Mili Hong, Sunny Kim, and Peggy Lee.

Shahzad Ismaily is a Brooklyn-based musician, composer, engineer and founder of Figure 8 Recording. Born to Pakistani immigrant parents, he grew up in a wholly bicultural household. Exploring improvisation, tonal shifts and rhythmic movement, the Grammy nominated artist often referred to as the “Musician’s favorite Musician” has worked with a number of avant-garde musicians and composers including Laurie Anderson, Anthony Coleman, Milford Graves, Eyvind Kang, Butch Morris and Marc Ribot. Over the last thirty years he has played electric bass, drums, percussion, guitar, synthesizers and all manner of sound-makers procured in life’s travels.

The Studio will take place daily June 24 - 28, 2024, from 11 a.m. - 2 p.m. with the final session being open to the public.

Please note, participants are responsible for bringing their own instrument and managing their transportation to and from the workshops. All participants will be provided with lunch daily and a free festival pass for the Vancouver International Jazz Festival.

A black and white photo of Shahzad Ismaily wearing sunglasses, while looking over his right shoulder and raising his left had to his ear.

How to Participate

The New Improvisers Studio is open to young musicians aged 17 to 24 from all music backgrounds and levels of experience. To participate, please submit an expression of interest to with the subject line “The New Improvisers Studio EOI” no later than May 31, 2024 at 11:59 p.m. PDT.

Expressions of interest can be submitted in the form of a written letter, video, audio recording, or visual presentation of no more than 1 page or 3 minutes length. In your expression of interest, please include an overview of your musical background, chosen instrument or voice, interest in improvisation, and your ambitions as a musician.

Successful applicants will be notified by June 7, 2024.


Presented in partnership by Coastal Jazz and Western Front, with the support of the Deux Mille Foundation, the Dr. Hari Sharma Foundation, and the International Institute for Critical Studies in Improvisation at the University of British Columbia with support from the Government of Canada.

Western Front is a non-profit
artist-run centre in Vancouver.

We acknowledge the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and səl̓ílwətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations as traditional owners of the land upon which Western Front stands.