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Posts tagged 'Vijay Iyer'

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. 

Vijay Iyer's "Trouble" at Ojai and Beyond

As the Music Director of the 2017 Ojai Festival, Vijay Iyer believes that festival-goers will "discover a great deal—not just about music, but about themselves." Stacking the festival program with close collaborators such as violinist Jennifer Koh, and legendary ensembles such as the AACM and ICE, Iyer wants to force an "update" of what contemporary music can mean today. 

On June 8th, Iyer will perform the American premiere of Emergence for jazz trio and orchestra, along with bassist Stephan Crump, drummer Tyshawn Shorey and the International Contemporary Ensemble alongside players of the Oberlin Conservatory Contemporary Music Ensemble. Emergence, which premiered in 2016, combines the forms and notational traditions of classical music with the possibilities of improvised traditions, asking performers to listen to each other in real time and make performative decisions. 


(Koh with Oberlin Sinfonietta and Tim Weiss in workshop performance of "Trouble"; photo: Yevhen Gulenko, courtesy of Oberlin Conservatory)

That evening's concert also includes the world premiere of Trouble, featuring violinist Jennifer Koh, accompanied by ICE and the Oberlin Contemporary Ensemble, and led by Steven Schick. Trouble is a violin concerto in three movements, the second of which is dedicated to Vincent Chin, a Chinese-American auto-worker killed in a hate crime in 1982. During rehearsals at Oberlin, Koh's colleague Claire Solomon, Associate Professor of Hispanic Studies and Comparative Literature, was inspired to write a "voluntary response" to the piece (you can read Solomon's full account in our PSNY Greenroom, part of our new "Composer Spotlights" series). As Solomon writes, 

Trouble opens up something scarce and endangered that classical music doesn’t even know it needs. Trouble isn’t programmatically anti-racist; it doesn’t represent Chin’s murder but testifies to the rhythmic relay of lives of which his was only one, and demands that we see the pattern. It grieves the racial tragedy that shapes our future because we do not work through it, and it opens up a space for what Derrida called the work of mourning as he might have pointed out an area for his cleaning lady to take care of – but Trouble doesn’t let us off the hook as rubberneckers; it summons us to a reckoning. As Vijay said in the Museum Q&A, it pins us to the present: a moment in which to tell white audiences not to be racist.

Trouble will also be performed at UC Berkeley and Tanglewood, both of which co-commissioned the work.  

The rest of the Ojai Festival is packed with talks and performances, including two that feature flautist Claire Chase. On June 9th, Chase will perform excerpts from Marcos Balter's Pan, and on June 10th, Chase performs a free pop-up concert of Mario Diaz de Leon's Labrys and Mysterium

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