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Venue:
Kimmel Center's Perelman Theater300 S. Broad Street
Philadelphia, PA Map
Price: $29-39
Sponsored by:
Friday, April 22, 2016 - 8:00pm

Vijay Iyer & Mike Ladd’s Holding It Down

The Veterans’ Dreams Project

Vijay Iyer, piano + keyboard
Mike Ladd, vocals
Liberty Ellman, guitar
Maurice Decaul, vocals
Lynn Hill, vocals
Okkyung Lee, cello
Kassa Overall, drums
Guillermo E. Brown, vocals
Pamela Z, vocals

Ars Nova Workshop is pleased to recommend the Kimmel Center's presentation of Holding It Down: The Veterans’ Dreams Project, the third installment in an ongoing collaboration between MacArthur Award-winning pianist Vijay Iyer and poet/emcee Mike Ladd about American life over a decade of war.

 

The duo’s working method engages the formal languages of modern jazz and avant-garde rap to frame narratives that detail the domestic psychological fallout of U.S. foreign policy, particularly among people of color.

 

2004’s song cycle In What Language? investigated pernicious notions of global identity through the lens of post-9/11 airport security. 2007’s Still Life with Commentator was an oratorio about 24-hour news media that “held up a fun-house mirror to our culture of information overload” (Nate Chinen, New York Times).

 

For Holding It Down, Ladd interviewed young American veterans of color about their dreams upon returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan, and then wrote responses that often incorporated direct quotes from the veterans. Iyer then set Ladd’s libretto to a flexible score for an all-star cast of improvisers—cellist Okkyung Lee, guitarist Liberty Ellman, drummer Kassa Overall, and the voices of Guillermo E. Brown and Latasha N. Nevada Diggs. The result was one that Rolling Stone lauded for its “powerful narrative invention and ravishing trance-jazz.” In an interview with the National Endowment for the Arts’ blog, Iyer explains, “When you’re dealing with veterans in a performing arts environment, it’s not just a project that’s about them, or that’s depicting them—it is them. So, you have the reality of their presence erupting into the work, intervening in this artistic experience.”

 

The program notes ask: “How does the new breed of war veterans go about their irreversibly altered lives? How do they move from the unspeakable back to the speakable? What are they able to dream about? How are they able to hold it down? The songs in this project contain some of their very real and complicated answers.”