“(Iyer is) Captivating…an extravagantly gifted new-jazz pianist and a quick-witted composer…” – The New Yorker

“[Ladd] approaches and dissects history with a concentrated vigor… [Iyer's] music swirls with a thick, heartening spirit…” – The Village Voice

Improvisational in nature and hybrid to the core, In What Language? is a collaborative work by pianist/composer Vijay Iyer and librettist/performer/producer Mike Ladd, leading an ensemble of musicians and speaking voices. Consisting of a series of poetic monologues by people of color negotiating the hyper-globalized setting of a 21st-century international airport, In What Language? synthesizes a broad range of influences, including experimental jazz, hip-hop, rock, American minimalism, and African and South Asian rhythms.

The son of Indian immigrants, Vijay Iyer draws from African, Asian, and European musical lineages to create works that are both emotionally expressive and structurally sophisticated. In addition to releasing several CDs (including Panoptic Modes, Fieldwork: Your Life Flashes, and Blood Sutra), Iyer has toured worldwide as a bandleader and as a featured performer with artists such as Steve Coleman, Roscoe Mitchell, and Amiri Baraka. As a performer and composer, Iyer has received grants from the Rockefeller Foundation, New York State Council on the Arts, Arts International, Creative Capital, and the Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust. Most recently, Iyer received the 2003 CalArts Alpert Award in the Arts in the field of music.


Boston-born Michael C. Ladd has published his writings in the literary magazines Long Shot Review and Bostonia, in the book Swing Low: Black Men Writing, and in the anthologies Aloud: Voices from the Nuyorican Poets Café, In Defense of Mumia, Bum Rush the Page, Pour La Victoire, and Everything But the Burden. Referred to as “one of hip-hop’s most restless minds” (The New Yorker), he is a well-traveled performer and bandleader, and the writer and producer of several widely praised albums, including Welcome to the Afterfuture, The Infesticons: Gun Hill Road, and The Majesticons: Beauty Party. As a Fellow at the Institute for Arts and Civic Dialogue at Harvard University, Ladd produced and directed Blood Black and Blue, an audio documentary/performance about black police officers in the United States. Ladd currently lives in the Bronx. Commissioned by The Asia Society, In What Language? is made possible with generous support from The Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust and is a sponsored project of Creative Capital Foundation.