What is ImproviStory?:
ImproviStory™ is a one-man-band where musician and sound artist Victor Haskins creates improvised, story-like soundscapes. The soundscapes provide a cinematic soundtrack to our imaginations. Audience members are immersed in the ImproviStory and have their own personal, internal experience with what kind of story is suggested to them based on their perception of the energy of the soundscape. Sometimes, other artistic mediums, such as film, theatre, or dance, are combined in collaboration with the soundscapes. The result is an even more impactful, transformational journey of the mind, senses, and heart.
ImproviStory performances include a talkback element with the audience to answer questions, discuss themes, and investigate artistic choices and processes.
ImproviStory was created in 2013 through Victor Haskins' individual explorations with improvising on the trumpet. The original concept was for solo, unaccompanied trumpet. The first major performance for a significant audience came in 2014 at the Apex Jazz Festival in North Carolina. And then again at the Festival of New Trumpet Music in New York a few months later. Shortly after this performance, Victor made some major life changes which led to new possibilities for ImproviStory.
ImproviStory underwent a metamorphosis in 2015 when Victor began playing the Electronic Wind Instrument (EWI), which is a digital synthesizer powered by wind. Haskins' eyes (and ears) were opened to a whole new world of sonic possibilities with the addition of the EWI (and the ability to design his own sounds), and so ImproviStory kept its core identity of being stories suggested by musically-arranged sounds. What it gained was the potential to be a truly epic and universally-relatable sound art/musical event. Instead of only being an intimate, acoustic adventure on the trumpet, ImproviStory became capable of providing the emotional weight of a lush, improvised orchestra. In one moment, ImproviStory can make you feel like a buoy tossed about in a turbulent ocean; in the next moment you feel like a star basking in the solitude and isolation of outer space.
In October of 2018, Haskins conceptualized and led a performance called "Social Medium", which explored some concepts and ideas from John Powell's book, "Why Am I Afraid to Tell You Who I Am?", through improvised dance (by [Monte] Meoleaeke A. Jones and William Sterling Walker) and improvised sound (video available below).
In the July/August of 2019, Haskins was commissioned by the Anne Arundel County Public Schools (AACPS) Performing & Visual Arts Magnet Program to create a multidisciplinary presentation for their teacher professional development in August of 2019. His creation, entitled "The American Way", examines lynching of African-Americans in post-Civil War America in relation to killings of African-Americans at the hands of police in the modern era. This project was a mix of improvised sound, improvised dance by (Monte) Meoleaeke A. Jones, video, staging, and theater.
In November 2019, Haskins was invited to present a work at 1708 Gallery’s large-scale, juried art exhibition called InLight. InLight 2019 was hosted in Chimborazo Park in Richmond, VA. Haskins devised a multidisciplinary project called "Chimborazo, in Every Sense of the Name (1865-1866)". This is an exploration of the (true) story of Chimborazo as a refugee camp for newly freed African-Americans in 1865, and the conditions which precipitated its demise in 1866. This project involved improvised sound, improvised dance (Monte) Meoleaeke A. Jones, and video, along with voice-over readings of the historical documents upon which the story is based.
In August of 2020, Victor and ImproviStory debuted a piece called "Be/Flow" which explores the relationship between visual imagery (drone and first-person action videography), improvised sound, and improvised movement (by Kevin LaMarr Jones and [Monte] Meoleaeke A. Jones) in the context of creating a suggested, cohesive narrative form. This performance was made possible by funding by the Richmond CultureWorks Grant Program. Additionally, thanks to 1708 Gallery for the use of their space in producing the performance during this very difficult and strange time of the pandemic, COVID-19.
"The American Way (Hindsight is 2020)" was commissioned by 1708 Gallery for their large-scale art installation, Inlight 2020. Haskins reconfigured and adapted the original The American Way project to include contemporary stories from 2020, and this iteration of the performance featured three improvising movement collaborators: (Monte) Meoleaeke A. Jones, Kevin LaMarr Jones, and Christine Catherine Wyatt.
In February of 2022, Haskins was commissioned by William & Mary to create an ImproviStory. In response, Victor debuted "ImproviStory: FRAME" in the Swem Library--this performance added a new media/experimental film element which served as an occasional visual stimulus to work with the soundscape element of the ImproviStory.
Click "play" to watch videos of ImproviStory performances!
“Victor’s performance was unlike any other that our guests had experienced. His ability to convey a story through layering sounds and building a song right in front of our eyes was incredible to both watch and hear. A truly special experience!”
-Heather Ernst, Deputy Director, Branch Museum of Architecture & Design
“Haskins has created one of the most compelling, unique, and provocative musical experiences available to date with the ImproviStory. Haskins creates lush and creative soundscapes that can’t help but to captivate the audience. Haskins has his own collection of these ImproviStories, and also, is able to tailor the performance for a specific audience. Not only that, his ability to articulate his creative process, explain the various instruments and music technology that he’s using is truly impressive. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention how much of a delight he is to work with. He’s very responsive, adaptable and, a great communicator on top of being one of the most talented musicians this generation has seen.”
-Morgan Davis, Reference Librarian – Music Division, Library of Congress
"Victor's multimedia work, "The American Way", was a raw glimpse into the soul of a nation that has struggled with racial inequality. His multi-dimensional musical and artistic talents were on full display throughout the performance and, partnered with Monte Meoleaeke Jones' dance, offered a poignant perspective on the tribulations of the African American in our country."
David Kauffman, Senior Manager, Performing & Visual Arts Magnet Program, Anne Arundel County Public Schools