As Violinist and violist, LaDonna Smith has been on the international new music scene for more than 30 years. She is an active performer, as well as an educator and native of Birmingham, Alabama. By networking with organizers and musicians from other cities, and as producer/editor ofthe improvisor, she has been an avid warrior, promoting the improvisational arts, and keeping this music alive in Alabama, and encouraging networking in the Southern Eastern United States. From touring the world, producing and hosting numerous concerts since the 1970's, to organizing the Birmingham Improv Festival, celebrating 30 year anniversary of the improvisor, the international journal of free improvisation, she has invited to Alabama performers from Sweden, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy, France, England, Russia and Ukraine, as well as Japan and Australia for concerts, workshops, and residencies, as well as a host of regional and national participants in music, theatre, and dance.
LaDonna has created a style of improvisation on violin and viola that is uniquely her own. Alternating classical and extended techniques, she explores her instrument, painting scenarios and sound pictures as she plays. She has performed at practically every major improvisation festival and many of the New Music Festivals. She has toured Europe on numerous occasions, playing solo and in collaboration with local musicians. Her travels have taken her to the former USSR, Siberia, and Japan. In addition, she and guitarist, Davey Williams, have toured North America and Europe many times as Trans Duo. As musical partners, they maintain their own recording label, TransMuseq, and also co-editthe improvisor, the international journal of free improvisation, printed eleven editions, and now exists in its revised world- wide-web edition.
As a teacher, not only has she given many workshops on free improvisation throughout the U.S. and Canada to schoolchildren and college students, but for 15 years, she has taught violin to hundreds of children in Birmingham, Alabama, and is the Director of the Birmingham Suzuki Violin Association. In 1998, she took 24 students and 14 adults to Japan to participate in the 42nd National Suzuki Concert in Tokyo. The Suzuki Violinists also performed their own concerts in Nagano, and a Sister City International Friendship Concert in Hitachi. As faculty on the Central Pennsylvania Suzuki Institute, she conducted experiments with string students and improvisation, fostering a learning atmosphere of openness, experimentation, and creativity.
Her publications are quite varied and include:the improvisor, the international journal of free improvisation I-XI, The American Suzuki Journal Summer 1998, Ability Development, Journal of the Suzuki Association of Great Britain, the International Talent Education Association Journal (Japan),
Heresies #10; Women in Music, (score & article); and a number of Surrealist literary publications:
Glass Veal I , Glass Veal II, Arsenal, Beef Sphinx, Free Spirits, Exposcao Internacional Surrealismo & Pintura Fantastica, Dungannon, The Dirt Furnace The Hourglass,
Interviews & features in various music publications include Muckrucker, Living Music, WIRE, and CODA.
Sound objects include:
The Art of Improvisation in art, movement and music...
LaDonna has a long history of working with dancers, beginning in 1978 by invitation of Birmingham Creative Dance Company, founded in 1965 by Laura Knox. Significant collaborations include contact improvisation with John Oswald in Toronto, Ontario, Katie Duck in Amsterdam, and Sylia Toffel in Birmingham, Alabama. The early work with dancers in free improvisation, compositions and collaborations began with a group called TRANSFORMS, which included young dancers from BCDC, directed by Juanita Suarez, in collaboration with Sycamore, Mary Foshee, Mary Horn, Suzanne Baker, and Susan Hefner (who later moved to NYC to work with the Alvin Nicolai Company before forming her own Susan Hefner and Dancers of NYC). Currently LaDonna continues to collaborate with Susan Hefner and percussionist Michael Evans in New York City.
Significant collaborations include Deborah Mauldin, Mary Horn, Sycamore, and Stephanie Averette in long swinging trapese pieces at Birmingham's Sloss Furnaces National Historic Site, LaDonna performs currently as a musician, improviser and composer with Deborah Mauldin and Bearing Light Butoh. Other primary free dance collaborations have been with Stella Nystrom and Celeste LaBourde of Birmingham Experiments, Ann Law of Barking Legs in Chattanooga, and London's renowned Claire Elizabeth Barratt of Cilla Vee movement arts and sculpture.
The LaDonna is also a writer and visual artist, whose poetry, drawings, and surrealist influenced ceramic sculpture have been published and exhibited nationally. She enjoys teaching, outdoor activities, and practicing yoga, and believes that subconscious mind, unifying the body and Spirit in "play," is the basis of her artistic expression.