Parker Quartet with Vijay Iyer
Although pianist, composer, and bandleader Vijay Iyer is known primarily for his work in jazz and improvised music—something Big Ears attendees can experience when he leads his magnificent trio with Tyshawn Sorey and Linda May Han Oh, to say nothing of his role in the Love in Exile trio with Arooj Aftab and Shahzad Ismaily—over the years he’s developed a robust practice writing for contemporary music ensembles. By now he has written for some of the greatest contemporary classical musicians in the world, including violinist Jennifer Koh, the Silkroad Ensemble, flutist Claire Chase, Bang on a Can All-Stars, and So Percussion, among others.
On his remarkable 2014 album Mutations he offered a collection of pieces for piano, electronics, and strings, and although improvisation played an important role, much of the work was notated, enabling others to interpret his scores. Iyer sometimes works directly with such ensembles, and on Mutations he played alongside an all-star string quartet with Miranda Cuckson, Michi Wiancko, Kyle Armbrust, and Kivie Cahn-Lipman.
For this special program with Boston’s superb Parker Quartet—violinists Daniel Chong and Ken Hamao, violist Jessica Bodner, and cellist Kee-Hyun Kim—Big Ears celebrates Iyer’s new classical and chamber music. The ensemble formed in 2002, and although its sterling reputation has been built on its readings of the standard repertory, it has regularly crossed borders. On a 2021 album for ECM the quartet showcased its versatility, pairing the bracing modern sounds of György Kurtág’s “Six moments musicaux Officium breve” with a refined account of Dvorák’s String Quartet, on which the ensemble was joined by guest violist Kim Kashkashian. Iyer will join forces with the group on a varied survey of his compositions, including quintets and solo pieces.