Anastasia Tsioulcas

Anastasia Tsioulcas is a reporter and producer for NPR Music. She reports on a wide range of musical genres and music-industry topics for NPR's flagship news programs as well as for NPR Music.

Tsioulcas is intensely interested in the arts at the intersection of culture, politics, economics and identity. She has profiled musicians and dancers in contemporary Cuba, a punk drummer from Washington, DC who raced to preserve the artistic traditions of pre-civil war Syria, a band of Muslim and Jewish musicians from Algeria reunited after 50 years, and an interfaith group from Texas rooted in a 700-year-old singing tradition from south Asia. She has also brought listeners into the creative process of musicians like composers Steve Reich and Terry Riley.

As a video producer, she has created some of NPR Music's high-profile music documentaries and performances, including bringing cellist Yo-Yo Ma to a Brooklyn theatrical props warehouse and pianist Yuja Wang to an icy-cold Steinway & Sons piano factory in Queens. Tsioulcas also produces some of the episodes in NPR Music's much-lauded Tiny Desk Concert series, and has hosted live concerts from venues like the Metropolitan Museum of Art and New York's (Le) Poisson Rouge. She has also commissioned and produced several world premieres on behalf of NPR Music, including a live event that brought together 350 musicians on the steps of the Brooklyn Public Library.

Tsioulcas has reported from across Europe, north and west Africa, south Asia and Cuba for NPR and other outlets. Prior to joining NPR in 2011, she was widely published as a writer and critic on both classical and world music, and was the North America editor for Gramophone Magazine and the classical music columnist for Billboard.

Born in Boston, Tsioulcas was trained from an early age as a classical violinist and violist. She holds a B.A. from Barnard College, Columbia University in comparative religion.

Kurt Masur, a former music director of the New York Philharmonic, died Saturday from complications from Parkinson's disease at a hospital in Greenwich, Conn. His death was announced by the New York Philharmonic.

When you think of Cuban music, contemporary classical most likely isn't the first — or possibly even fifth — genre that springs to mind. But a group of American composers and musicians couldn't resist an opportunity to travel to the island to present their own music and seek out their Cuban colleagues' work — and frankly, neither could I. We traveled together last month to the Havana Festival of Contemporary Music, for the event's 28th edition.

A battle between upbeat, finely crafted pop and politically minded hip-hop seems to be what's shaping up for the biggest prizes at this year's Grammy Awards. The nominees were announced this morning, in advance of the awards ceremony on Feb. 15.

Over the course of a career that lasted some sixty years, pianist, producer and songwriter Allen Toussaint's music and sound became a hugely influential force for artists working in many different genres. Toussaint died on Monday night in Madrid, at the age of 77.

As the news has spread, artists and other luminaries have been pouring out their grief on social media. Here's a selection of their tributes.

Getting "Hotline Bling" to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 was something that Drake really, really wanted. He said so, very publicly, last week on Instagram:

The "Hotline Bling" video, which was originally only posted on Apple Music, proved to be endlessly remixable, with Drake seeming to be in on the joke — or at the very least, more or less cheerfully resigned to its destiny.

These days, virtually every type of music imaginable is at our fingertips nearly anytime, anywhere. But for decades, getting that kind of access meant trekking to an actual store, where the store buyers were tastemaking kings. Throughout much of the 1980s, and especially during the CD boom of the '90s, Tower Records locations across the U.S. were meccas for music fans.

Actor Colin Hanks — Tom's son — loved Tower so much, he spent seven years making a documentary about the chain. It's a love letter to Tower Records called All Things Must Pass.

Over in London, the Independent's arts editor, David Lister, recently published a scathing commentary about the paucity of valuable or even interesting information in artist biographies. He wrote it in a fury after paying £4 to obtain the program for a Proms concert he attended, featuring the excellent German violinist Julia Fischer.

English vocalist Sam Lee has an amazing backstory: He found his way to singing professionally after stints as a wilderness survival expert and a burlesque dancer. But what really matters are his mesmerizing performances, as well as his incredible ability to connect with people — certainly with the audience in front of him, but also with the elders he's sought out to learn these songs.

When it comes to artistic partnerships, there's a lot to be said for the fireworks of musicians joining together for the first time. But there's another kind of collaboration that can yield profound pleasure: a recording with two artists who know each other deeply, in a relationship that has unfolded over years or even decades.

An American punk drummer has become an unlikely historian of the Armenian community in Aleppo, Syria. And he's recently released a recording of their religious music — just as the city is crumbling during Syria's ongoing civil war.

Jason Hamacher doesn't seem like the kind of guy who would be drawn to a place like Syria.

"I am the son of a Southern Baptist minister," he says. "I was born in Texas, I have no cultural ties or blood ties whatsoever to the Middle East, or to the populations that inhabit the Middle East."

Billboard magazine used to be known as "the bible of the music business," a trade publication trusted for its straightforward analysis of industry trends. But an anonymous questionnaire that leaked online last Thursday has some readers questioning Billboard's journalistic skills and integrity.

Each June 21, the one-day Make Music New York festival (MMNY) celebrates not just sound but community. It's a summer solstice gathering of the tribes for music makers and music lovers alike, with more than 1200 outdoor concerts across the five boroughs running from morning till night.

Composer Terry Riley turns 80 Wednesday. He's been called the father of minimalism for his groundbreaking 1964 work In C. But his influence has spread far beyond, sparking the imaginations of many artists, from cutting-edge electronic musicians to rock gods.

Why is classical music so hard to enjoy on streaming services? In one word, it's metadata. Metadata is the information that coexists with every digital music file: each and every piece of information about a selection of music that a listener might find useful to know, and what makes the information in one file discernible from the next. In the case of classical music, relevant and important metadata includes the name of the piece of music, the composer, the album it's from, the performers, the label that released the recording and the year it was recorded.

Margaret Juntwait was the mellifluous voice of the Metropolitan Opera's Saturday live radio broadcasts. She was also a longtime host at NPR member station WNYC in New York. Juntwait died Wednesday at age 58 of complications from ovarian cancer. The Met and WNYC have each offered tributes.

Updated below at 6:40 p.m. ET with defendants' response.

Was it a laudable snapshot of cross-generational jamming, or taking advantage of a jazz titan?

Valentina Lisitsa is a pianist whose worldwide reputation was built on social media. She is now experiencing a major backlash due to what she's been writing on Twitter.

It came to a head with the cancellation of Lisitsa's scheduled performances Wednesday night and Thursday night with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, which announced earlier this week that she would not be appearing to play Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 2 with the ensemble and Finnish conductor Juka-Pekka Saraste. Both TSO management and Lisitsa have said she will still receive her full fee.

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