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Posts tagged 'Vijay Iyer'

Vijay Iyer and Morton Subotnick at Big Ears

The Big Ears Festival in Knoxville, Tennessee, draws together musicians operating within different styles, genres, scenes, and social communities; for a magic weekend, this year from March 30th through April 2nd, audiences can expand their ears in twelve venues across the city. 

The composer, pianist, and scholar Vijay Iyer will perform in three separate configurations that highlight his versatility as a composer and performer. On Thursday, March 30th, Iyer, along with bassist Linda May Han Oh and drummer and composer Tyshawn Sorey, will play in a trio formation; this is the same trio which recorded Iyer’s recent ECM album Uneasy, which was described by Jazz critic Nate Chinen as “taut and enveloping” in his review for Pitchfork.

The following day, Iyer will perform in a different trio, with Pakistani-American vocalist Arooj Aftab and longstanding creative multi-instrumentalist Shahzad Ismaily, in support of their upcoming album Love in Exile. Iyer first performed with this trio in 2018, and through subsequent improvised performances, the trio developed an emergent, crystalline, otherworldly sensibility; their performance at Big Ears will be their first after the release of Love in Exile on Verve Records on March 24th. 

Finally, on Saturday, April 1st, Iyer will join the Parker Quartet in a presentation of his composed works, including works for solo piano, piano quartet, and more. Check out his Mozart Effects with the Parker Quartet below. 

Closing out the festival on Sunday, April 2nd, Morton Subotnick will perform his newest work, As I Live and Breathe, with his longtime collaborator, the Berlin-based visual artist Lillevan. Subotnick writes:  

 “As I Live and Breathe features live and sampled vocalizing along with some of my most advanced electronic performance techniques. At last, some Buchla modules are now digital plugins and Ableton Live has evolved into a form that will allow me to create a technological environment that I never expected, in my lifetime, to experience. It starts with my breath, moves through a vocalizing cadenza of vocal gestures and ends with a tender and simple use of gentle rhythms and melodic fragments."

Watch an excerpt of Subotnick and Lillevan's recent performance below. 

Vijay Iyer Premieres "Crisis Modes" at LA Phil

Vijay Iyer has long questioned the stylistic, disciplinary, and political boundaries between the worlds of classical music and jazz—boundaries that have been in flux for nearly a century. It's no surprise, then, that Iyer was asked by none other than Herbie Hancock to contribute a new composition for a concert program entitled "The Edge of Jazz," to be performed on January 15th by the LA Phil New Music Group as a part of the LA Phil's Green Umbrella Series. Iyer's contribution to this concert, entitled Crisis Modes, compliments other new works by other luminaries such as Hermeto Pascoal, Tyshawn Sorey, Kamasi Washington, Billy Childs, and Hitomi Oba. 

To compose Crisis Modes, Iyer began with a piano improvisation, which he then orchestrated for strings and percussion. This is unusual for Iyer, although he has spent his career both improvising, composing and orchestrating; in this work, he writes that he hopes to make music both for "now" (improvisation) and "tomorrow" (composition). Iyer writes:

Crisis Modes offers a version of the present in which we call each other to action, push through a haze of denial, and organize ourselves as a coherent, constructive oppositional force. I don’t exactly know what that sounds like, but I can at least imagine how it feels, so this piece is my attempt to trace that affective landscape. 

For an intimate look at Iyer's writing for strings and piano, check out his Mutations I–X, which he originally composed for the ETHEL string quartet, here performed by Iyer and the Brentano Quartet in 2014:

Vijay Iyer Performs with Jennifer Koh at National Sawdust

On March 31st, PSNY composer Vijay Iyer will perform on an all-star program at Brooklyn's National Sawdust that features Jennifer Koh, Tyshawn Sorey, Nina Young, and Du Yun. The program features premieres of new duos for Koh and their respective composers, in a commissioning program run by the arco collective called "Limitless." Iyer has already worked extensively with Koh, composing the violin concerto Trouble and writing Bridgetower Fantasy for her "Bridge to Beethoven" program.

For "Limitless", Koh seeks to address what Douglas Shadle calls the "burden of sameness" in American orchestral culture. In an interview with Steve Smith, Koh asks: 

My question is, why aren’t we doing more – or what can I do more, as an artist – to counteract what I see? What do we do within the industry, in terms of programming? I think finally people are now saying, “Hey, there’s no women on these programs,” whereas five years ago it was the same thing, except nobody was actually doing research. So the reason I created “Limitless” was because oftentimes people are just not seen, and not acknowledged. “Limitless” was about imagining a future in which people are seen, bringing us together and getting rid of the boundary between composer and performer, and really advocating for this new movement of community.

On March 31st, Koh and Iyer will continue to ask these questions—and to seek out the beginnings of an aswer. 

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