Media only: Katey Padden, Public Relations and Social Media Coordinator, (585)451-8492, firstname.lastname@example.org
American composer, pianist, bandleader, producer, and writer Vijay Iyer, who has been described by the New York Timesas a “social conscience, multimedia collaborator, system builder rhapsodist, historical thinker, and multicultural gateway,” will be the Eastman School of Music’s 2022 Glenn Watkins Lecture Series guest speaker.
“We are especially excited to welcome to Eastman a musician and thinker at the forefront of both creative music-making and the current intellectual reckoning with the exclusions of traditional musicology and music theory,” says Holly Watkins, Professor and Chair of Musicology.
While visiting Eastman, Vijay Iyer will do a meet-and-greet with the Musicology Department and graduate students, present a department-wide talk on improvisation, and present the Glenn Watkins Lecture to the Eastman community. The lecture, titled “Musicality”, will take place Thursday, February 10 at 3:30 p.m. in Hatch Recital Hall and is open to the public.
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, earning him a place as one of the leading music-makers of his generation.
He received a MacArthur Fellowship, 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. He has been praised by Pitchfork as “one of the best in the world at what he does,” by the Los Angeles Weekly as “a boundless and deeply important young star,” and by Minnesota Public Radio as “an American treasure.”
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.
Iyer is also an active composer for classical ensembles and soloists, whose works have been commissioned and premiered by Brentano Quartet, Imani Winds, Bang on a Can All-Stars, The Silk Road Ensemble, , LA Philharmonic, and American Composers Orchestra, , among others. A longtime New Yorker, Iyer lives in central Harlem with his wife and daughter. He teaches at Harvard University in the Department of Music and the Department of African and African American Studies. He is a Steinway artist.
“Eastman School of Music has played a role in my life since childhood,” says Vijay Iyer. “I remember attending concerts at Kilbourn Hall, taking music theory courses, playing in string quartets, and attending the summer jazz workshop in 1987. All of these experiences helped make me the artist I am today. I’m delighted to return to my hometown and share some thoughts on musicality in the place where that very sensibility was cultivated in me.”
The Glenn Watkins Lecture Series was established by the distinguished musicologist and Eastman alumnus Glenn Watkins ’53 to bring exceptional figures in the field of music and related humanistic disciplines to speak at the school. Watkins, who died in 2021, joined the University of Michigan faculty in 1963, where he was Earl V. Moore Professor of Music from 1984 until his retirement in 1996.
Known for his Italian Renaissance scholarship and his work on music of the 20th century, Watkins’s publications encompassed multiple genres. His Soundings: Music in the Twentieth Century (1988) found widespread adoption as a textbook. His Gesualdo: The Man and His Music (1973) remains the defining text on that composer, and he was co-editor of the complete works of Gesualdo and Sigismondo d’India.
The Glenn Watkins Lecture Series has brought such guests to Eastman as Meredith Monk, Jo Ann Falletta, Leon Botstein, Francesca Zambello, and Jeremy Denk.
The three-semester-long Eastman Centennial celebration began in Fall 2021 and continues throughout 2022. Highlights include acclaimed guest artists performing alongside Eastman’s ensembles; national academic and music conferences; alumni events throughout the country; a documentary being produced in partnership with WXXI, and more. Pillar events include: “Opening of the Doors,” a community-driven celebration scheduled for March 2-6, 2022; “100 concerts to celebrate 100 years”; and a Meliora Weekend celebration in Fall 2022.
For up-to-date information on the Eastman Centennial, including feature stories, future events, videos, testimonials, ways to engage, and more, please visit our Centennial website at https://www.esm.rochester.edu/100.
About Eastman School of Music:
The Eastman School of Music was founded in 1921 by industrialist and philanthropist George Eastman (1854-1932), founder of Eastman Kodak Company. It was the first professional school of the University of Rochester. Mr. Eastman’s dream was that his school would provide a broad education in the liberal arts as well as superb musical training.
More than 900 students are enrolled in the Collegiate Division of the Eastman School of Music—about 500 undergraduates and 400 graduate students. They come from almost every state, and approximately 23 percent are from other countries. They are taught by a faculty comprised of more than 130 highly regarded performers, composers, conductors, scholars, and educators. They are Pulitzer Prize winners, Grammy winners, Emmy winners, Guggenheim fellows, ASCAP Award recipients, published authors, recording artists, and acclaimed musicians who have performed in the world’s greatest concert halls. Each year, Eastman’s students, faculty members, and guest artists present more than 900 concerts to the Rochester community. Additionally, more than 1,700 members of the Rochester community, from young children through senior citizens, are enrolled in the Eastman Community Music School.
About the University of Rochester:
The University of Rochester is one of the nation’s leading private research universities, one of only 62-member institutions in the Association of American Universities. Located in Rochester, N.Y., the University gives undergraduates exceptional opportunities for interdisciplinary study and close collaboration with faculty through its unique cluster-based curriculum. Its College, School of Arts and Sciences, and Hajim School of Engineering and Applied Sciences are complemented by the Eastman School of Music, Simon School of Business, Warner School of Education, Laboratory for Laser Energetics, School of Medicine and Dentistry, School of Nursing, Eastman Institute for Oral Health, and the Memorial Art Gallery.