Video: Polymathic Performing Artist Vijay Iyer Wants His Listeners to 'Feel Cared For'
Vijay Iyer performs with his eyes closed because he is listening to his audience. “It's not because I'm ignoring everybody. It's because I'm trying to hear everybody,” the New York-based jazz pianist, bandleader, and composer told television anchor Gayle King during his appearance last week on the Charlie Rose Show. “At some level it’s a social act. It’s about empathy, it’s about communication.”
Iyer’s interview comes after the release of his new album, Break Stuff, and first aired on PBS on Monday, March 16.
Iyer, currently a member of the senior faculty in the Department of Music at Harvard University, has a long relationship with Asia Society.
In 2002-2003, Asia Society commissioned Iyer and poet/librettist Mike Ladd to create a work addressing racial profiling in a post-9/11 world. The ensuing project, In What Language? A Cycle of Lives in Transit, produced an award-winning album and national tour.
Iyer appeared most recently at Asia Society New York in 2011 to launch the debut album of his trio Tirtha, a collaboration with guitarist-composer Prasanna and tabla player Nitin Mitta.
King asked Iyer what he hoped his listeners received from his music. “Part of the act of putting music out into the world is setting it free,” he said. “I want [listeners] to feel cared for. It’s a form of address — I’m reaching out to the listener and saying, ‘you can be a part of this.’ That’s what music is: it’s about creating a bond or a link with others.”
Watch the complete video of the Charlie Rose program with Vijay Iyer using the player above, and revisit highlights from his presentations at Asia Society via the videos below.
Video: Vijay Iyer's personal journey (6 min., 28 sec.)
Video: Vijay Iyer and Mike Ladd: In What Language? (11 min., 42 sec.)