Questions of Practice: Composer and Pianist Vijay Iyer and Librettist Mike Ladd on Multivocality

For a number of years, jazz pianist and composer Vijay Iyer and poet and librettist Mike Ladd have been collaborating on a series of multimedia performance works exploring American life in the post-9/11 era. Holding It Down: The Veterans’ Dreams Project is the third work in this series, drawing from interviews conducted with veterans of color from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

When asked how this “multi-voice” work informs his concept of authorship, Iyer explained that “it gets beyond authorship [and] becomes more testimonial…It’s less about creating a finished product and more about bringing the observer into the frame.”

Composer and pianist Vijay Iyer and librettist Mike Ladd on multivocality. Filmed at The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage on February 10, 2016.

The Kimmel Center, Inc. will present the Philadelphia premiere of Holding It Down on April 22, 2016, with Center support.

MacArthur Fellow Vijay Iyer is a critically-acclaimed jazz pianist and composer who has produced over 20 albums and has collaborated with such musicians and ensembles as Steve Coleman, Wadada Leo Smith, Bang On A Can All-Stars, and Brooklyn Rider. A renowned music scholar, Iyer received an interdisciplinary Ph.D. in the cognitive science of music from the University of California, Berkeley, and is currently the Franklin D. and Florence Rosenblatt Professor of the arts at Harvard University.

Poet, performer, and librettist Mike Ladd began his career as a spoken word poet after graduating from Hampshire College with a degree in English literature. He later found success as a rapper and hip-hop producer, releasing five solo albums, in addition to being the brain behind the fictitious music collectives Majesticons and Infesticons.

The Philadelphia Chapter of the American Composers Forum is committed to supporting local composers and developing new markets for their music.

Grants & Grantees

Founded in 2005 by Christine Cox and Matthew Neenan, BalletX unites distinguished choreographers with a company of world-class dancers to “forge new works of athleticism, emotion, and grace.”

Grants & Grantees

King Britt is on a journey, exploring the patchwork of rhythmic textures from many urban dance music cultures: deep house, hip-hop, broken beat, nu-jazz, funk, and afro-tech.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reviewed the latest presentation in The Crossing’s Month of Moderns festival, The Gulf (between you & me).

Grants & Grantees

Kun-Yang Lin/Dancers is one of the country’s foremost contemporary Asian-American dance companies, celebrating the ability of dance to integrate body, mind, and spirit.

Collaborators & Colleagues

Dance and choreographer Megan Bridge co-directs < fidget >, a platform for her collaborative work with composer, designer, and musicologist Peter Price.

Grants & Grantees

In 1995 the Center awarded Pew Fellowships to 16 Philadelphia-based artists, and grants to 23 dance and music organizations in the greater Philadelphia region.

Twelve years after its debut, Bryn Mawr College’s Performing Arts Series presented this work with the John Jasperse Company.

Grants & Grantees

The company is dedicated to making critically important performance opportunities available to the current generation of opera and theatrical performers, designers, and directors.

Grants & Grantees

A year-long series of participatory performances at Washington Avenue Green will activate a one-acre site on the Delaware River waterfront that served as the entry point to Philadelphia for immigrants in the early 20th century.

Michelle Heffner Hayes will lead a discussion on the history of flamenco and its cultural significance in its contemporary form.

Grants & Grantees

Montgomery County Community College presented four concerts with African popular artists who derive their music from native traditions while incorporating western instruments and techniques.