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Inside Vijay Iyer’s Year-Long Met Residency

Acclaimed pianist-composer settles in at Met's new contemporary-art museum

Iyer performs at the Met's Temple of Dendur, March 2015

In early 2014, when Limor Tomer, the general manager of concerts and lectures at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, was homing in on her choice for the museum’s next artist-in-residence, she came across an article about Vijay Iyer in the New York Times. In a piece about Iyer’s “Multiple Worlds”-musical, political, cultural-writer Nate Chinen suggested that “[t]here’s probably no frame wide enough to encompass the creative output of the pianist Vijay Iyer.” As Tomer recalled, “I said, ‘That’s it! I’ve got the frame, and that’s the Met Museum.'”

Immediately upon taking charge of the Met’s live programming three years earlier, Tomer started shaking up the prestigious if staid musical agenda of an institution long considered the pinnacle of American high culture. Jettisoning much of the museum’s schedule of classical chamber music and solo recitals, she broadened the scope of the Met’s venerable concert series, and sought out cutting-edge contemporary performers to engage with the museum’s collection during year-long residencies.

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