Dr. Ajay Heble

Dr. Ajay Heble is the found­ing Direc­tor of the Inter­na­tion­al Insti­tute for Crit­i­cal Stud­ies in Impro­vi­sa­tion (IICSI), and Pro­fes­sor of Eng­lish in the School of Eng­lish and The­atre Stud­ies at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Guelph. His research has cov­ered a full range of top­ics in the arts and human­i­ties and has result­ed in 16 books pub­lished or in press, numer­ous arti­cles or chap­ters, and over 100 grad­u­ate stu­dents and post-doc­tor­al fel­lows trained and men­tored. He was the found­ing Artis­tic Direc­tor of the award-win­ning Guelph Jazz Fes­ti­val and Col­lo­qui­um (he served in that capac­i­ty for 23 years, retir­ing in 2016), and is a found­ing co-edi­tor of the peer-reviewed jour­nal Crit­i­cal Stud­ies in Improvisation/Études cri­tiques en impro­vi­sa­tion (www.criticalimprov.com).

Dr. Heble is the recip­i­ent of numer­ous awards, includ­ing the 2016 SSHRC Impact Award in the Part­ner­ship cat­e­go­ry, the 2014 Dr. Wine­gard Exem­plary Vol­un­teer Award, and a Teach­ing Excel­lence Award from the Stu­dent Sen­ate Cau­cus at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Guelph.  In 2019, he was award­ed an hon­orary degree (Doc­tor hon­oris causa) from 17, Insti­tu­to de Estu­dios Criti­cos in Mex­i­co. In 2023, he was award­ed the pres­ti­gious Kil­lam Prize in the Humanities.

Heble is also an accom­plished pianist with a long back­ground as a per­former. His first CD, a live set of impro­vised music called Dif­fer­ent Win­dows with per­cus­sion­ist Jesse Stew­art, was released on the Intre­pi­dEar label in 2001. His recent record­ings include Hold True / Accroche-Toi), The Time of the Sign, and Le gouf­fre / The Chasm, all with his impro­vis­ing quar­tet The Ver­ti­cal Squir­rels (and released on the Ambiances Mag­né­tiques label).