Vijay Iyer honored with prestigious MacArthur "Genius" Award

Jazz composer and pianist takes over the Alexander Kasser Theater this week with free Public Discussion and World Premiere concert event.

Photo by Jimmy Katz

MacArthur Fellow and Peak Performances artist Vijay Iyer.

In a superb bit of timing which makes his appearances at Montclair State University extra special, Jazz pianist/composer/polymath Vijay Iyer was honored today as one of 24 recipients of a 2013 MacArthur "Genius" Award. The annual awards, fellowships from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, are given to between 20 and 40 U.S. citizens of any age, working in any field, who "show exceptional merit and promise for continued and enhanced creative work." According to the Foundation's website, "the fellowship is not a reward for past accomplishment, but rather an investment in a person's originality, insight, and potential."

Mr. Iyer's selection as a 2013 winner continues Peak Performances association with MacArthur grantees who strive to push the envelope of what is possible in live performance. Previous winners presented at Peak Performances include jazz composer/musician Miguel Zenón; Tony Award-winning director and choreographer Bill T. Jones; choreographers Trisha Brown, Susan Marshall, Liz Lerman; and other multi-discipline artists such as Bernice Johnson Reagon, Jennifer Tipton, Trimpin, and Meredith Monk.

As part of Peak Performances 2013/14 season, Vijay Iyer will host a free public discussion for the campus community on Wednesday, October 2nd at the Alexander Kasser Theater. The event will begin at 7:00 p.m., and is free to all faculty, staff, students, and the general public.

Later in the week, Vijay Iyer will lead a group of more than 20 musicians in the world premiere of OPEN CITY, a large ensemble jazz project featuring appearances from Queens rapper/activist Himanshu Suri and author Teju Cole. Cole's critically acclaimed 2012 novel of the same name inspired the flavor and feel of this wide-ranging work commissioned by Peak Performances at Montclair State University. Tickets are $20 for every seat, but MSU Undergraduates receive one ticket at no charge through the Performing Arts Fee (tickets can be reserved at the Box Office with a valid student ID).

Click to read the full New York Times announcement.