Courtney Bryan, a native of New Orleans, La, is “a pianist and composer of panoramic interests” (New York Times). Her music ranges from solo works to large ensembles in the new music and jazz idioms, film scores, and collaborations with dancers, visual artists, writers, and actors, and is in conversation with various musical genres, including jazz and other types of experimental music, as well as traditional gospel, spirituals, and hymns. Focusing on bridging the sacred and the secular, Bryan’s recent compositions explore human emotions through sound, confronting the challenge of notating the feeling of improvisation. She performs around the New York area, and is the Director of the Institute of Sacred Music at Bethany Baptist Church of Newark, NJ. Dr. Bryan has academic degrees from Oberlin Conservatory (BM), Rutgers University (MM), and a DMA in music composition from Columbia University of New York, with advisor George Lewis. Bryan has been an instructor at Columbia University and Oberlin Conservatory, and is currently a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Center for African American Studies at Princeton University. In the fall of 2016, Bryan will join the Newcomb Department of Music at Tulane University as an Assistant Professor of Music. She has two independent recordings, “Quest for Freedom” (2007) and “This Little Light of Mine” (2010). Read More
Born from Taiwanese and East Timorese immigrant parents, 2016 Doris Duke Artist Jen Shyu (Chinese name: 徐秋雁) is an experimental jazz vocalist, composer, multi-instrumentalist, dancer, producer, and Fulbright scholar. Known mostly for her virtuosic singing with saxophonist and 2014 MacArthur Genius Fellow Steve Coleman since 2003 and having collaborated with innovators Anthony Braxton, Bobby Previte, Chris Potter, Michael Formanek, and David Binney to name a few, she has performed her own music around the world in such venues as Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Rubin Museum of Art, Ringling International Arts Festival, Asia Society, Roulette, Blue Note, Bimhuis, Salihara Theater, National Gugak Center, and National Theater of Korea and festivals around the world.
Grammy-nominated composer-pianist Vijay Iyer (pronounced “VID-jay EYE-yer”) was described by Pitchfork as “one of the most interesting and vital young pianists in jazz today,” by the Los Angeles Weekly as “a boundless and deeply important young star,” and by Minnesota Public Radio as “an American treasure.” He has been voted DownBeat Magazine‘s Artist of the Year three times – in 2016, 2015 and 2012. Iyer was named Downbeat’s 2014 Pianist of the Year, a 2013 MacArthur Fellow, and a 2012 Doris Duke Performing Artist. In 2014 he began a permanent appointment as the Franklin D. and Florence Rosenblatt Professor of the Arts in the Department of Music at Harvard University.
The New York Times observes, “There’s probably no frame wide enough to encompass the creative output of the pianist Vijay Iyer.” Iyer has released twenty albums covering remarkably diverse terrain, most recently for the ECM label. The latest include A Cosmic Rhythm With Each Stroke (2016), a collaboration with Iyer’s “hero, friend and teacher,” Wadada Leo Smith, which the Los Angeles Times calls “haunting, meditative and transportive”; Break Stuff (2015), with a coveted five-star rating in DownBeat Magazine, featuring the Vijay Iyer Trio, hailed by PopMatters as “the best band in jazz”; Mutations (2014), featuring Iyer’s music for piano, string quartet and electronics, which “extends and deepens his range… showing a delicate, shimmering, translucent side of his playing” (Chicago Tribune); and Radhe Radhe: Rites of Holi (2014), “his most challenging and impressive work, the scintillating score to a compelling film by Prashant Bhargava” (DownBeat), performed by International Contemporary Ensemble and released on DVD and BluRay. Read More
George E. Lewis is the Edwin H. Case Professor of American Music at Columbia University. A Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a Corresponding Fellow of the British Academy, Lewis’s other honors include a MacArthur Fellowship (2002), a Guggenheim Fellowship (2015), a United States Artists Walker Fellowship (2011), an Alpert Award in the Arts (1999), and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts.
Lewis studied composition with Muhal Richard Abrams at the AACM School of Music, and trombone with Dean Hey. A member of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) since 1971, Lewis’s work in electronic and computer music, computer-based multimedia installations, and notated and improvisative forms is documented on more than 150 recordings. His work has been presented by the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, London Philharmonia Orchestra, Radio-Sinfonieorchester Stuttgart, Mivos Quartet, Boston Modern Orchestra Project, London Sinfonietta, Spektral Quartet, Talea Ensemble, Dinosaur Annex, Ensemble Pamplemousse, Wet Ink, Ensemble Erik Satie, Eco Ensemble, and others, with commissions from American Composers Orchestra, International Contemporary Ensemble, Harvestworks, Ensemble Either/Or, Orkestra Futura, Turning Point Ensemble, San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, 2010 Vancouver Cultural Olympiad, IRCAM, Glasgow Improvisers Orchestra, and others.
Lewis has served as Fromm Visiting Professor of Music, Harvard University; Ernest Bloch Visiting Professor of Music, University of California, Berkeley; Paul Fromm Composer in Residence, American Academy in Rome; Resident Scholar, Center for Disciplinary Innovation, University of Chicago; and CAC Fitt Artist in Residence, Brown University. Lewis received the 2012 SEAMUS Award from the Society for Electro-Acoustic Music in the United States, and his book, A Power Stronger Than Itself: The AACM and American Experimental Music (University of Chicago Press, 2008) received the American Book Award and the American Musicological Society’s Music in American Culture Award; Lewis was elected to Honorary Membership in the Society in 2016. Lewis is the co-editor of the two-volume Oxford Handbook of Critical Improvisation Studies (2016), and his opera Afterword (2015), commissioned by the Gray Center for Arts and Inquiry at the University of Chicago, has been performed in the United States, United Kingdom, and the Czech Republic. In 2015, Lewis received the degree of Doctor of Music (DMus, honoris causa) from the University of Edinburgh.
Photo credit: Emily Peragine
Newark-born multi-instrumentalist and composer Tyshawn Sorey (b. 1980) is celebrated for his incomparable virtuosity, effortless mastery and memorization of highly complex scores, and extraordinary ability to blend composition and improvisation in his work. He has performed nationally and internationally with his own ensembles, as well as with such artists as John Zorn, Vijay Iyer, Roscoe Mitchell, Muhal Richard Abrams, Wadada Leo Smith, Marilyn Crispell, Steve Lehman, Evan Parker, and Myra Melford, among many others. Read More