March 11, 2009
World-class composer and jazz pianist Vijay Iyer, voted the #1 Rising Star Jazz Artist and #1 Rising Star Composer in the Downbeat Magazine International Critics' Poll for both 2006 and 2007, will play a free concert on Saturday, April 4 in honor of Dan Lucas, a UNC Asheville alumnus who died a year ago while earning an advanced degree at the University of California at Berkeley. Lucas, a first-year candidate for a doctorate in Chemistry, was also a talented musician and jazz enthusiast. The performance is made possible by the Dan Lucas Memorial Fund, an endowment of the Western North Carolina Community Foundation. The Community Foundation's mission is to develop and distribute charitable funds across eighteen counties in the mountain region. This April's concert is the first in a planned annual series.
Vijay Iyer was described in The Village Voice as "the most commanding pianist and composer to emerge in recent years." He holds a B.S. in Mathematics and Physics from Yale College, and a Masters in Physics and an interdisciplinary Ph.D. in Technology and the Arts (in Musical Cognition) from UC Berkeley. Though strongly grounded in the sciences, his influences include African and South Asian musics and even underground hip-hop and electronica, making his music compelling to listeners of every age and taste.
Iyer's albums to date include, most recently, Door (2008), a collaboration with the experimental three-piece unit Fieldwork ("a jazz power trio for the new century" on NPR's Fresh Air), and Tragicomic (2008), called "a stunning achievement... one of the year's best albums" by Troy Collins on AllAboutJazz.com.
Joining Iyer on April 4 are Marcus Gillmore on drums and Stephen Crump on bass, to comprise a trio that Howard Reich of the Chicago Tribune called "one of the great rhythm units of the day."
Greg Lucas, Dan's brother and a board member of the Dan Lucas Memorial Fund, selected Iyer to play in part because of the diverse interests in music and the sciences that he shared with Dan. UNC Asheville, widely recognized for its commitment to interdisciplinary studies, makes the perfect host for the concert. "Dan was very happy and excited to become a scientist of the highest caliber," Greg says. "He worked hard during his undergraduate studies at UNC Asheville but deeply enjoyed it at every level. Our family is honored that the University is hosting this concert to honor his life."
Iyer's April 4 performance will be held at Lipinsky Auditorium on the UNC Asheville campus. Doors will open at 7 p.m. and the show will begin at 8 p.m. Admission is free.
For more information on the Western North Carolina Community Foundation, please visit www.cfwnc.org. For more information on the work of Vijay Iyer, visit www.vijay-iyer.com. For questions about this concert or the Dan Lucas Memorial Fund, contact Miranda Volborth at 828.450.5186.