Composer and Pianist Vijay Iyer, Vamping in Technicolor
Twice monthly, The CFR is delighted to feature articles from our partner ArtsNash. The journalists at ArtsNash cover the eclectic and growing arts scene of Nashville, Tennessee.
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This music review was written by John Pitcher.
It’s hard to believe Oz Arts Nashville is not yet a year old. In short order, this adventurous, forwarding-looking venue for the contemporary arts has fundamentally changed the creative landscape of Music City. Now, anything seems possible.
On Saturday night, the renowned composer and jazz pianist Vijay Iyer was at Oz, exploring the possibilities of combining improvised jazz with notated post-minimal chamber music and electronics. Iyer’s experiments took two forms. The first was Mutations I-X, a 10-movement suite for improvised jazz piano, amplified string quartet and electronics. The second was Radhe Radhe: Rites of Holi, a film by Prashant Bhargava that was screened to live accompaniment by Iyer and the International Contemporary Ensemble. Both works received memorable performances.
In his program notes, Iyer describes the biological phenomenon of mutation as “the noise in our genes,” and evolution as a “dynamic, noisy interaction between a species and innumerable competing, fluctuating environmental factors – a situated, ecosystem-wide improvisation.”
John Pitcher is the chief classical music, jazz and dance critic as well as co-founder of ArtsNash. He has been a classical music critic for the Washington Post, the Rochester (NY) Democrat and Chronicle, National Public Radio’s Performance Today (NPR), ArtNowNashville.com and the Nashville Scene. His writings about music and the arts have also appeared in Symphony Magazine, American Record Guide and Stagebill Magazine, among other publications. Pitcher earned his master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, where he studied arts writing with Judith Crist and Phyllis Garland. His work has received the New York State Associated Press award for outstanding classical music criticism.