I came across the site at Haute-Ville, in the south of France in the VAR in the Spring of 1973. I was highly impressed by its presence and historical vibrations as well as shocked that it lay abandoned and had been for decades. The old village was so invaded by vegetation that it was impossible to penetrate and see what was actually there I returned, equipped with a machete, and proceeded to discover parts of walls where houses had stood, open spaces where no doubt small gardens and outside living had existed. I was also able to get into the chapel that sill stood intact next to a large house which was also still standing.
My imagination came forward with visions of musicians and other artists working together at the site - a series of simple cabins in which they could stay - music which came floating out of the chapel. I found out that the ruins belonged to the city of Puget-Ville. I was able to negotiate a contract with them which has allowed me to live in the big house next to the chapel since 1974. Today my vision is still intact but more developed as I now see also a big studio cum theater with residency quarters. I formed the association European Center for Improvisation in 2014 with my colleague Enrico Fagnoni. Together and in conjunction with the city of Puget-Ville we are at the beginning of the realization of this dream.
Barre Phillips, February 2016
Today CEPI (Centre Européen Pour l'Improvisation) is housed in the big house next to the chapel which is still the residence of Barre Phillips. Its mission is to promote the meeting of different artistic and other disciplines (the sciences, philosophy, architecture, mathematics etc. etc.), to meet and work together using improvisation as their principal point of departure. Improvisation is today more than ever a serious meeting point of persons from varied disciplines, or from the same discipline, to create and discover new ways of working together, new forms and energy sources and new ways of creating.
The very nature of improvisation is to be able to access as yet unexplored.
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Uploaded July 2019