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Shai Wosner and the East Coast Chamber Orchestra Premiere Vijay Iyer's Handmade Universe in NYC

Oct. 18, 2023

On October 28, Shai Wosner and the East Coast Chamber Orchestra (ECCO) premiere Vijay Iyer's piano concerto, Handmade Universe, on the Peoples' Symphony Concerts' Mann Series at Washington Irving High School in New York City. Iyer notes:

"The title Handmade Universe refers to the piece’s instrumentation: for pianists and string players, every sound is the result of a gesture. For me, this old and obvious truth still somehow unsettles music’s fundamentals. Lyricism, for example, amounts to an aural illusion, insinuating a voice that is absent; musical phrasing can simulate breathing without actually correlating to it; a walking beat is generated by fingertips rather than feet. Another organizing idea emerged in response to a simple question: What can this aggregate - a conductorless ensemble with a powerful existing rapport - do together? The piece became an exploration of different forms of group synchrony that can be felt from within, and different forms of independent expression in relation to it. 

Lastly, as a pianist and former violinist, I found myself building the work in two very different directions: from my composer’s head, and from my player’s hands. The hands, I find, possess a musicality all their own.

Vijay Iyer
September 21, 2023"

Handmade Universe was commissioned in honor of Peoples' Symphony Concerts' Manager Frank Salomon for Shai Wosner and ECCO with a grant from the Roger Shapiro Fund, and support from Michael Hindus, Richard Replin and Elissa Stein and the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society.

Last month, members of the Berkeley Symphony, performed Iyer's string quartet Dig the Say on their first chamber concert of the season titled "American Intersections" at the Piedmont Center for the Arts in Piedmont, California.

Brooklyn Rider String Quartet performs Vijay Iyer's Dig the Say

To learn more about Vijay Iyer, visit

Vijay Iyer
Handmade Universe (2023)
for piano and string orchestra

Dig the Say (2012)
for string quartet