Big Ideas in Improvisation: Fred Moten & Vijay Iyer in Conversation Big Ideas In Improvisation: Fred Moten and Vijay Iyer in Conversation

IICSI and Musagetes are pleased to announce the inaugural Big Ideas in Improvisation lecture: Fred Moten & Vijay Iyer in Conversation. This online event on May 28th, 2021 (7pm EDT) will bring these two artistic visionaries, social activists, and MacArthur “Genius” award winners together for an evening of provocative and inspiring dialogue. This lecture is open to all, and free to attend. Thank you to ArtsEverywhere Festival for co-presenting this lecture.

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More about our guest speakers:

Fred Moten

Photo courtesy of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

Fred Moten works in the Department of Performance Studies in the Tisch School of the Arts, New York University. He is interested in social movement, aesthetic experiment, and the poetics of black study. Over the last thirty years, Moten has addressed this concern as part of the Harris Moten Quartet, Moved by the Motion, Le Mardi Gras Listening Collective, the Institute for Physical Sociology, the Center for Convivial Research and Autonomy, and the Exodus Reading Group; and in collaboration with Arika, Renee Gladman, Zun Lee, Jennie C. Jones, Renée Green, George Lewis, Harmony Holiday, and Gerald Cleaver & Brandon Lopez, among many others; and in a number of books, the latest of which, written with his old friend and writing partner Stefano Harney, is All Incomplete (Minor Compositions/Autonomedia, 2021). He was recently awarded a Macarthur “Genius Grant,” recognizing his work of “creating new conceptual spaces to accommodate emerging forms of Black aesthetics, cultural production, and social life.”

Vijay Iyer

Photo by Ebru Yildiz

Described by The New York Times as a “social conscience, multimedia collaborator, system builder, rhapsodist, historical thinker and multicultural gateway,” Vijay Iyer has carved out a unique path as an influential, prolific, shape-shifting presence in twenty-first-century music. A composer and pianist active across multiple musical communities, Iyer has created a consistently innovative, emotionally resonant body of work over the last twenty-five years. He received a MacArthur Fellowship (2013), a Doris Duke Performing Artist Award, a United States Artist Fellowship, a Grammy nomination, the Alpert Award in the Arts, and two German “Echo” awards, and was voted Downbeat Magazine’s Jazz Artist of the Year four times in the last decade.

Iyer’s musical language is grounded in the rhythmic traditions of South Asia and West Africa, the African American creative music movement of the 60s and 70s, and the lineage of composer-pianists from Duke Ellington and Thelonious Monk to Alice Coltrane and Geri Allen. He has released twenty-four albums of his music, most recently UnEasy (ECM Records, 2021).

An active composer for classical ensembles and soloists, Iyer’s works have been commissioned and premiered by Brentano Quartet, Imani Winds, Bang on a Can All-Stars, The Silk Road Ensemble, International Contemporary Ensemble, Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, LA Philharmonic, American Composers Orchestra, and virtuosi Matt Haimowitz, Claire Chase, Shai Wosner, and Jennifer Koh, among others. He has also written big-band music for Arturo O’Farrill and Darcy James Argue, remixed classic recordings of Talvin Singh and Meredith Monk, joined forces with legendary musicians Henry Threadgill, Reggie Workman, Zakir Hussain, and L. Subramanian, and developed interdisciplinary work with Teju Cole, Carrie Mae Weems, Mike Ladd, Prashant Bhargava, and Karole Armitage. He recently served as composer-in-residence at London’s Wigmore Hall, music director of the Ojai Music Festival, and artist-in-residence at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art.

More about the series:

Big Ideas in Improvisation is an annual series will showcase provocative thinkers and creative practitioners in a public forum as they share ideas and insights about the power, expansive force, and urgency of improvisation. These public lectures, aimed at a general audience, will encourage us to consider how the artistic practices of improvisation developed by creative practitioners can translate into broader spheres of influence and action. Improvisational practices can put pressure on unquestioned assumptions, help us discover new ways of being, and put into action potential solutions to some of our most pressing contemporary global challenges. The Big Ideas in Improvisation lecture series is free and open to all.

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