European American Music Distributors Company is a member of the Schott Music Group

Sō Percussion Premieres Vijay Iyer's Dharma-Eye at Carnegie Hall

Dec. 19, 2023

On December 2, Sō Percussion performed the world premiere of Vijay Iyer's Dharma-Eye at Carnegie Hall's Zankel Hall. Iyer joined the ensemble and Milena Casado (trumpet and flugelhorn) for the performance, which also featured music by Angélica Negrón, Olivier Tarpaga, and Jason Treutling.

Iyer notes:

"Dharma-Eye takes its name from a moment in the first chapter of the Vimalakirti Sutra when the world is shown to be much more than it appears. First brought to my attention by theater director Peter Sellars, this early Buddhist text is didactic in nature, teaching concepts of nondualism, emptiness, and compassion.

Dharma-Eye is scored for piano, trumpet/flugelhorn, and four percussionists. The music is organized for creative ensemble in the tradition set forth by Wadada Leo Smith and others, describing musicians and ensembles who bring their creative input to the realization of a composed work. This is often referred to as “improvisation,” but that term falls short of capturing the structural impact of this process.

Music making becomes “listenable,” I feel, by revealing its own internal listening processes. What does listening sound like? For an individual performer, the process is audible in their relation to their surroundings, in their interactions with the sound of the room and the listening presence of others. In ensemble music, listening sounds like trust: a cultivated rapport among players, audible in mutual breathing, attunement, blending, dynamics, the ebb and flow of pulse, and the non-visual coordination of action.

This composition reduces the visual element of notation as much as possible and pushes the manageable limits of the aural. I view this piece as less a straightforward linear score than a system of ethical relations that affords individual and collective sonic agency. It offers specific strategies for building musical structure: listening and responding, aggregating and synchronizing, maintaining and transforming. These methods are meant to foster a performative vulnerability that brings the music making to life, bringing performers to the brink of possibility and revealing their interreliance. The piece invites players to proceed, through a cooperative listening practice, from emptiness to form and back."

To learn more about Vijay Iyer, visit

Vijay Iyer
Dharma-Eye (2023)
for piano, trumpet & fugelhorn, and percussion