Past Event

Vijay Iyer, Pianist

Voted the #1 Rising Star Jazz Artist and #1 Rising Star Composer in the Downbeat Magazine International Critics' Poll for both 2006 and 2007, VIJAY IYER was described in The Village Voice as "the most commanding pianist and composer to emerge in recent years." The son of Indian immigrants, he is a largely self-taught creative musician grounded in the American jazz lexicon and drawing from a range of Western and non-Western traditions. His widely acclaimed recordings include Panoptic Modes (2001), Blood Sutra (2003), Reimagining (2005), and Tragicomic (2008) with his trio/quartet; Your Life Flashes (2002), Simulated Progress (2005), and Door (2008) with the experimental three-piece unit Fieldwork; Raw Materials (2006) in his longstanding duo with saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa and In What Language? (2004) and Still Life with Commentator (2007), his large-scale works in collaboration with poet-performer Mike Ladd.

As a composer/performer, Iyer has received commissioning grants from the Rockefeller Foundation MAP Fund (2000, 2001, 2005), the New York State Council on the Arts (2002), Creative Capital Foundation (2002), Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust (2002, 2004), American Composers Forum (2005), Chamber Music America (2005), and Meet The Composer (2006). He received the prestigious 2003 CalArts Alpert Award in the Arts, the 2004 Up & Coming Musician of the Year Award in the Eighth Annual Jazz Awards, a 2006 Fellowship in Music Composition from New York Foundation for the Arts, and a 2007 Artist Residency at Harvestworks.

Iyer's first orchestral work, Interventions, was commissioned and premiered by the American Composers Orchestra in March 2007 under the baton of Dennis Russell Davies for the ensemble's 30th anniversary gala concerts. It was praised by Anthony Tommasini in The New York Times as "all spiky and sonorous," and David Patrick Stearns of the Philadelphia Inquirer wrote that the piece "immediately proclaimed its importance." Peter Burwasser wrote in the Philadelphia City Paper, "[Iyer] brings it off with a heft and dramatic vision and a daring sense of soundscape."

Iyer has collaborated in performance and on disc with a wide range of contemporary artists, including Steve Coleman, Roscoe Mitchell, Amiri Baraka, Wadada Leo Smith, Dead Prez, Amina Claudine Myers, Butch Morris, George Lewis, Miya Masaoka, Trichy Sankaran, Samir Chatterjee, Pamela Z, Imani Uzuri, Will Power, Suphala, Dafnis Prieto, Burnt Sugar, Karsh Kale, Ibrahim Quraishi, DJ Spooky, John Zorn, and many others.

A polymath whose work has spanned the sciences, arts, and humanities, Iyer holds a B.S. in Mathematics and Physics from Yale College, and a Masters in Physics and an interdisciplinary Ph.D. in Technology and the Arts from the University of California at Berkeley. He was chosen as one of nine "Revolutionary Minds" in the science magazine Seed, and his research in music cognition has been featured on the radio programs This Week in Science and Studio 360. He has given master classes and lectures in composition, improvisation, cognitive science, jazz studies, and performance studies at New York University, The New School University, California Institute of the Arts, Columbia University, Harvard University, Manhattan School of Music, and the School for Improvisational Music, among others. His writings appear in Music Perception, Current Musicology, Journal of Consciousness Studies, Critical Studies in Improvisation, Journal of the Society for American Music, and the edited anthologies Uptown Conversation: The New Jazz Studies (Columbia Univ. Press) and Sound Unbound (MIT Press). He is a Steinway artist.