Saturday, March 9, 2019 | 7:30pm
Herbst TheatreVenue Information
Works by IYER, ZAKIR HUSSEIN, JOHN MCLAUGHLIN, J.S. BACH, RAVI SHANKAR, BILLY STRAYHORN and others
Robert and Ruth Dell, Lead Individual Sponsor
About This Performance
Cellist Matt Haimovitz—who has spent a career successfully rethinking how and where music is performed and heard—joins forces with genius jazz composer-performer pianist Vijay Iyer with a program that showcases Iyerʼs own compositions alongside music of Zakir Hussein, J.S. Bach, Ravi Shankar, and Billy Strayhorn.
Renowned as a musical pioneer, cellist Matt Haimovitz is praised by The New York Times as a “ferociously talented cellist who brings his megawatt sound and uncommon expressive gifts to a vast variety of styles” and by The New Yorker as “remarkable virtuoso” who “never turns in a predictable performance.” He has inspired classical music lovers and countless new listeners by bringing his artistry to concert halls and clubs, outdoor festivals and intimate coffee houses – any place where passionate music can be heard. He brings a fresh ear to familiar repertoire, champions new music, and initiates groundbreaking collaborations, as well as creating innovative recording projects. Besides his relentless touring schedule, he mentors an award-winning studio of young cellists at McGill University’s Schulich School of Music in Montreal.
Haimovitz made his debut in 1984, at the age of 13, as soloist with Zubin Mehta and the Israel Philharmonic. At 17 he made his first recording with James Levine and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, for Deutsche Grammophon. He has gone on to perform on the world’s most esteemed stages, with such orchestras and conductors as the Berlin Philharmonic with James Levine, the New York Philharmonic with Zubin Mehta, the English Chamber Orchestra with Daniel Barenboim, the Boston Symphony Orchestra with Leonard Slatkin, and the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal with Kent Nagano. Haimovitz made his Carnegie Hall debut when he substituted for his teacher, the legendary Leonard Rose, in Schubert’s String Quintet in C, alongside Isaac Stern, Shlomo Mintz, Pinchas Zukerman and Mstislav Rostropovich.
The solo cello recital is a Haimovitz trademark, both inside and outside the concert hall. In 2000, he made waves with his Bach “Listening-Room” Tour, for which, to great acclaim, Haimovitz took Bach’s beloved cello suites out into the clubs across the U.S., Canada, and the U.K. Haimovitz’ 50-state Anthem tour in 2003 celebrated living American composers and featured the cellist’s own arrangement of Jimi Hendrix’s Star-Spangled Banner. He was the first classical artist to play at New York’s infamous CBGB club, in a performance filmed by ABC News for Nightline UpClose.
In 2015 he revisited the Bach cello suites with the release of The Cello Suites According to Anna Magdalena for the PENTATONE Oxingale series, inspired and informed by an authoritative manuscript by Anna Magdalena and performed on period instruments. This season, he takes his profound new interpretation even further with the release of Overtures to Bach, six new commissions that anticipate and reflect each of the cello suites. The new overtures by Philip Glass, Du Yun, Vijay Iyer, Roberto Sierra, David Sanford, and Luna Pearl Woolf, expand upon the multitude of spiritual, cross-cultural, and vernacular references found in the Bach, building a bridge from the master’s time to our own. The new recording will be released internationally on the PENTATONE Oxingale series in August and launched in Berlin, followed by performances in New York City, Montreal, and numerous other US cities this season.
Other highlights this season include concerti with the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, the Atlanta Symphony, and Tokyo’s New Japan Philharmonic. Matt will also lead the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie at the Berlin Philharmonie, and perform a concerto by Isang Yun—marking the 100th anniversary of the birth of the Korean composer and political prisoner—with the Bruckner Orchestra with Dennis Russel Davies on tour in Austria. He will also perform several solo recitals at festivals in Germany.
Haimovitz’ recording career encompasses more than 20 years of award-winning work on Deutsche Grammophon and his and composer/producer Luna Pearl Woolf’s own trailblazing independent label Oxingale Records, now in collaboration with PENTATONE. Two recent Oxingale albums have been nominated for Juno Awards and a third, Meeting of the Spirits, was nominated for a GRAMMY® for Best Classical Crossover Album and won a GRAMMY® for Best Producer of the Year (Classical). BEETHOVEN, Period, a traversal of the Beethoven Sonatas and Variations for Piano and Cello on period instruments with Christopher O’Riley was an Editor’s Choice pick, and one of the top-10 Beethoven albums of recent times, at Gramophone Magazine. 2015 also saw the release of ORBIT, an expansive 3-SACD compilation of Haimovitz’ solo cello work. Haimovitz’ recording of Philip Glass’s Cello Concerto No. 2, Naqoyqatsi, with the Cincinnati Symphony and Dennis Russell Davies, recorded live in Cincinnati, has received universal acclaim. A new solo cello album featuring the music of Philip Glass will be released in 2017 to coincide with the composer’s 80th birthday.
In 2006, Haimovitz received the Concert Music Award from ASCAP for his advocacy of living composers and pioneering spirit, and in 2004, the American Music Center awarded Haimovitz the Trailblazer Award, for his far-reaching contributions to American music. Born in Israel, Haimovitz has also been honored with the Avery Fisher Career Grant (1986), the Grand Prix du Disque (1991), the Diapason d’Or (1991) and he is the first cellist ever to receive the prestigious Premio Internazionale “Accademia Musicale Chigiana” (1999). Haimovitz studied at the Collegiate School in New York and at the Juilliard School, in the final class of Leonard Rose, after which he continued his cello studies with Ronald Leonard and Yo-Yo Ma. In 1996, he received a B.A. magna cum laude with highest honors from Harvard University. Matt Haimovitz plays a Venetian cello, made in 1710 by Matteo Gofriller.
Grammy-nominated composer-pianist Vijay Iyer (pronounced “VID-jay EYE-yer”) was described by Pitchfork as “one of the most interesting and vital young pianists in jazz today,” by the Los Angeles Weekly as “a boundless and deeply important young star,” and by Minnesota Public Radio as “an American treasure.” He has been voted DownBeat Magazine’s Artist of the Year three times—in 2016, 2015 and 2012. Iyer was named Downbeat’s 2014 Pianist of the Year, a 2013 MacArthur Fellow, and a 2012 Doris Duke Performing Artist. In 2014 he began a permanent appointment as the Franklin D. and Florence Rosenblatt Professor of the Arts in the Department of Music at Harvard University.
The New York Times observes, “There’s probably no frame wide enough to encompass the creative output of the pianist Vijay Iyer.” Iyer has released twenty albums covering remarkably diverse terrain, most recently for the ECM label. The latest include A Cosmic Rhythm With Each Stroke (2016), a collaboration with Iyer’s “hero, friend and teacher,” Wadada Leo Smith, which the Los Angeles Times calls “haunting, meditative and transportive”; Break Stuff (2015), with a coveted five-star rating in DownBeat Magazine, featuring the Vijay Iyer Trio, hailed by PopMatters as “the best band in jazz”; Mutations (2014), featuring Iyer’s music for piano, string quartet and electronics, which “extends and deepens his range…showing a delicate, shimmering, translucent side of his playing” (Chicago Tribune); and Radhe Radhe: Rites of Holi (2014), “his most challenging and impressive work, the scintillating score to a compelling film by Prashant Bhargava” (DownBeat), performed by International Contemporary Ensemble and released on DVD and BluRay.
Iyer’s trio (Iyer, piano; Marcus Gilmore, drums; Stephan Crump, bass) made its name with two tremendously acclaimed and influential albums, Accelerando (2012) and Historicity (2009). Accelerando was voted #1 Jazz Album of the Year for 2012 in three separate critics polls surveying hundreds of critics worldwide, hosted by DownBeat, Jazz Times, and Rhapsody, respectively, and also was chosen as jazz album of the year by NPR, the Los Angeles Times, PopMatters, and Amazon.com. The Vijay Iyer Trio was named 2015 Jazz Group of the year in the DownBeat International Critics Poll, with Iyer having earlier received an unprecedented “quintuple crown” in the 2012 Downbeat Poll (winning Jazz Artist of the Year, Pianist of the Year, Jazz Album of the Year, Jazz Group of the Year, and Rising Star Composer categories), as well as a “quadruple crown” in the JazzTimes extended critics poll (winning Artist of the Year, Acoustic/Mainstream Group of the Year, Pianist of the Year, and Album of the Year). Iyer received the 2012 and 2013 Pianist of the Year Awards and the 2010 Musician of the Year Award from the Jazz Journalists Association, and the 2013 ECHO Award (the “German Grammy”) for best international pianist. Historicity was a 2010 Grammy Nominee for Best Instrumental Jazz Album, and was named #1 Jazz Album of 2009 in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune, the Detroit Metro Times, National Public Radio, PopMatters.com, the Village Voice Jazz Critics Poll, and the Downbeat International Critics Poll, and the trio won the 2010 ECHO Award for best international ensemble.
Iyer’s 2013 collaboration with poet Mike Ladd, Holding It Down: The Veterans’ Dreams Project, based on the dreams of veterans of color from America’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, was hailed as #1 Jazz Album of the Year by the Los Angeles Times and described in JazzTimes as “impassioned, haunting, [and] affecting.” Along with their previous projects In What Language? (2004) and Still Life with Commentator (2007), Holding It Down rounded out a trilogy of politically searing albums about post-9/11 American life. These projects were hailed as “unfailingly imaginative and significant” (JazzTimes) and praised for their “powerful narrative invention and ravishing trance-jazz…an eloquent tribute to the stubborn, regenerative powers of the human spirit” (Rolling Stone).
Iyer’s accomplishments extend well beyond his recordings. His recent composer commissions include Playlist for an Extreme Occasion (2012) written for Silk Road Ensemble (and released on their 2013 album A Playlist without Borders); Dig The Say, written for Brooklyn Rider and released on their 2014 album Almanac; Mozart Effects (2011) and Time, Place, Action (2014) for Brentano String Quartet; Bruits (2014) for Imani Winds and pianist Cory Smythe; Rimpa Transcriptions (2012) written for Bang on a Can All-Stars; UnEasy (2011) commissioned by NYC’s Summerstage in collaboration with choreographer Karole Armitage; Three Fragments (2011) for Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society. His orchestral work Interventions was commissioned and premiered by the American Composers Orchestra in 2007 under the baton of Dennis Russell Davies. It was praised by The New York Times as “all spiky and sonorous,” and by the Philadelphia City Paper for its “heft and dramatic vision and a daring sense of soundscape.” Other works include Mutations I-X (2005) commissioned and premiered by the string quartet ETHEL; Three Episodes for Wind Quintet (1999) written for Imani Winds; a “ravishing” (Variety) score for the original theater/dance work Betrothed (2007); the award-winning film score for Teza (2008) by legendary filmmaker Haile Gerima; a suite of acoustic jazz cues for the sports channel ESPN (2009); and the prize-winning audiovisual installation Release (2010) in collaboration with filmmaker Bill Morrison. Forthcoming commissions include pieces for Jennifer Koh, Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, and So Percussion. His concert works are published by Schott Music. An active electronic musician and producer, Iyer displays his digital audio artistry on his own recordings Still Life with Commentator, Holding it Down, Mutations, and Radhe Radhe, and in his remixes for British Asian electronica pioneer Talvin Singh, Islamic punk band The Kominas, and composer-performer Meredith Monk.
Iyer was voted the 2010 Musician of the Year by the Jazz Journalists Association, and named one of 2011’s “50 Most Influential Global Indians” by GQ India. Other honors include the Greenfield Prize, the Alpert Award in the Arts, the New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship, the India Abroad Publisher’s Special Award for Excellence, and numerous critics’ prizes.
Iyer’s many collaborators include creative music pioneers Steve Coleman, Wadada Leo Smith, Roscoe Mitchell, Butch Morris, George Lewis, Amina Claudine Myers, William Parker, Graham Haynes, Miya Masaoka, Pamela Z, John Zorn; next-generation artists Rudresh Mahanthappa, Rez Abbasi, Craig Taborn, Ambrose Akinmusire, Liberty Ellman, Steve Lehman, Matana Roberts, Tyshawn Sorey; Dead Prez, DJ Spooky, Himanshu Suri of Das Racist, High Priest of Antipop Consortium, DJ Val Jeanty, Karsh Kale, Suphala, Imani Uzuri, and Talvin Singh; filmmakers Haile Gerima, Prashant Bhargava, and Bill Morrison; choreographer Karole Armitage; and poets Mike Ladd, Amiri Baraka, Charles Simic, and Robert Pinsky.
A polymath whose career has spanned the sciences, the humanities, and the arts, Iyer received an interdisciplinary Ph.D. in the cognitive science of music from the University of California, Berkeley. He has published in Journal of Consciousness Studies, Wire, Music Perception, JazzTimes, Journal of the Society for American Music, Critical Studies in Improvisation, in the anthologies Arcana IV, Sound Unbound, Uptown Conversation, The Best Writing on Mathematics: 2010, and in the forthcoming Oxford Handbook of Critical Improvisation Studies. Iyer has taught at Manhattan School of Music, New York University, and the New School, and he is the Director of The Banff Centre’s International Workshop in Jazz and Creative Music, an annual 3-week program in Alberta, Canada. Iyer recently finished a multi-year residency with San Francisco Performances, cultivating new audiences and working with schools and community organizations. He is a Steinway artist and uses Ableton Live software.