When Bad Ideas Lead to Innovation: Vijay Iyer's Transformations

Feb 18, 2016

Disparate sources compel composer and musician Vijay Iyer forward into a realm all his own. This MacArthur 'Genius' grant recipient says hybridity came naturally because that's what he knows. "I'm not really striving for unity as an artist," he says. "I'm interested in transformation."  

When he joins me in studio I ask him about the James Brown inspired piece "Dig the Say," written for string quartet Brookly Rider.  He tells me Brown is one of his biggest musical influences and that what sounded like a bad idea on the surface drew him to it. "To try and write a string quartet as a tribute to James Brown, that just doesn't sound right," he explains. "It's almost so wrong that it's right. This is exactly the wrong thing to do so I know I have to do it."  Find out more in my exclusive interview with him streaming here.

Iyer has two free public appearances at the UA this week including a performance tonight with his trio at the Faulkner Performing Arts Center and a lecture titled "I Feel You: Music and Empathy" tomorrow at 3 p.m. in Giffels Auditorium of Old Main.