Wake Forest University School of Divinity will host Theological Improvisations, a multi-day symposium dedicated to examining the rich interplay between music, theology, and creative expression. Scheduled to take place from April 11th to April 12th, 2024, this event will critically explore the musicological and theological dimensions of the art, aesthetics, styles, and techniques of improvisation in musical expression. The symposium will feature curated conversations led by esteemed musicians and scholars, including internationally acclaimed artist Cory Henry and Winston-Salem native and renowned producer Patrick “9th Wonder” Douthit.

“We are truly excited to convene this historic gathering of award-winning artists and distinguished scholars,” said Dean and Wake Forest Professor of the Humanities Corey D. B. Walker. “This event underscores the centrality of the arts to graduate theological education at Wake Forest University School of Divinity and makes a signature contribution to the distinctive arts culture here in Winston-Salem, the city of arts and innovation.” 

The symposium will kick off with an Opening Conversation on April 11th, 2024, at 4:00 p.m. in Farrell Hall’s Broyhill Auditorium, exploring the theme of “Creativity” with notable speakers such as Joshuah Brian Campbell, Patrick “9th Wonder” Douthit, Claudrena N. Harold, and Corey D. B. Walker. Following the conversation, attendees are invited to a reception at Farrell Hall’s Bern Beatty Colloquium, fostering further dialogue and connection.

On April 12th, 2024, the symposium will continue with a series of engaging conversations and performances. The morning session, themed “Sacred,” will take place from 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at the Scales Fine Arts Center’s Brendle Recital Hall. Notable panelists including Mark Burford, Alisha Lola Jones, Cory Henry, and Braxton Shelley will explore the sacred dimensions of improvisation.

The afternoon session, themed “Freedom,” will follow from 2:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the same location, featuring panelists Melvin L. Butler, Tammy L. Kernodle, and Guthrie P. Ramsey, Jr., as they explore improvisation’s role in fostering freedom within artistic and religious contexts.

The symposium will culminate with a captivating performance by Cory Henry at 5:00 p.m. in the Scales Fine Arts Center’s Brendle Recital Hall, followed by a closing reception, providing attendees with an opportunity to reflect on the symposium’s insights and experiences.

The symposium is free and open to the public. For registration and more information, please visit divinity.wfu.edu/improvisations.

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