a tribute to Susan Allen
A website conceived and edited by Jacques Burtin
This website is the complement of the Susan Allen Edition, an eight CD box set with unreleased recordings by Susan Allen and her friends. This box will include the complete harp and kora sessions that Susan Allen and Jacques Burtin held in Paris in 2007 and 2012; the 2009 Saint Petersburg concert by Susan Allen and Roman Stolyar; an excerpt of Sirens in Surround Sound, with Susan Allen and Mia Theodoratus (NYC, 2012); two improvisations by Susan Allen and Kamil Tchalaev (Paris, 2012); an improvisation by Susan Allen, Ilya Belorukov, Sergey Letov, and Roman Stolyar (Moscow, 2009); and new works by Trevor Berens, Jacques Burtin, Nicholas Chase, Whitney George, Vinny Golia, Vanessa Nowitzky, Jordan Simmons, and Kamil Tchalaev. Boston-based soprano Jessica Tunick will participate in the creation of one of the pieces.
The Susan Allen Edition will also feature Arcana of Improvisation, a series of 22 meditations by Jacques Burtin. This book will reflect his experience of free improvisation as shared with Susan Allen, and will give an insight of the creative act on the technical, moral, and spiritual levels.
Susan Allen (Monrovia, California, 1951 — Seattle, Washington, 2015) was an American harpist and music educator. She served as Associate Dean of the Herb Alpert School of Music at California Institute of the Arts, and taught harp and improvisation. She performed in a variety of genres — classical, experimental, jazz, and world music. She was particularly known for her world premieres of music for both the classical and electric harp by contemporary composers. She also played kayagum and she was an astrologer. Composer Nicholas Chase is posthumously co-authoring and completing Allen's book on improvisation Passage of Desire: Improvisation and the Human Journey.
Born Paris, France, in 1955, Jacques Burtin is a composer, improviser, writer, and filmmaker. He plays the kora. He has issued about forty CDs. His films “Ce qui me perd me sauvera” (What damns me saves me) and “Le Dialogue des ombres” (The Dialogue of Shadows) were screened at the Festival de Cannes in 2011 and 2012; “L’Enfant de la République” (The Child of La République) was screened at the Bilbao Short Film Festival Zinebi in 2015. Jacques Burtin has been teaching kora and giving masterclasses since 1987; between 2002 and 2012, he conducted sessions of Initiation to Interdisciplinary Creation and Performance at the Fine Arts School of the University of Deusto (Bilbao, Spain) along with dancer and choreographer Alicia Gómez Linares.
Susan Allen and Jacques Burtin met in Los Angeles in 1997. They improvised from their very first meeting and each time they met, mainly in Paris. They built several projects based on free harp and kora improvisations, such as “Cinq Églises”, a five concert performance in five Parisian churches, and “Mobile Sources”, a performance concert with an electric harp, a gravi-kora, and chance-projected multi-format videos. They issued a CD of free improvisations in 2007: Renaissance, which in French means “rebirth”.