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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. 

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