Iyer to Play with Student Orchestra Tonight

Jazz pianist and composer Vijay Iyer will be performing with the Idyllwild Arts student orchestra tonight, Saturday, May 8, at the IAF Theater in the Bowman Center, and then at the REDCAT Theater at Disney Hall in LA on Sunday.

Iyer and the orchestra will be performing “Interventions,” his first orchestra piece. Mostly, Iyer plays jazz improvisations with his trio, but he came to Idyllwild this week as a favor to Peter Askim, music director and composer-in-residence at Idyllwild Arts.

“We played jazz together in college,” Askim said.

A day before this concert, however, Iyer is not resting. He gave an hour-long lecture at Idyllwild Arts on math and music. He has math and physics degrees from Yale, but after graduating, he started jamming on piano at the Bird Kage in Oakland. He now performs worldwide with his band, the Vijay Iyer trio, and has won critical acclaim.

At the lecture held in the Fireside Room before about 75 music students and faculty, Iyer mixed his two loves, mathmatics with sounds from an amplifier hooked up to his laptop.

Although he described what he was saying as “nothing more than 7th grade math, he lost me at the end. However, most of the students, trained in music and notes, were following along on his whiteboard presentation, and giving him the right answers.

He described himself as coming from Indian descent, and said his music was earlier influenced by Indian classical and religious music. He looked more like a mathematician with his slight build, round glasses and cropped hair. But his large hands gave him away as also being a musician.

As a preview to his math and music lecture, Iyer sent Askim several articles from newspapers in which he describes how math has influenced architecture and music from ancient buildings to Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean.”

More to come!

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