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.

When you're all grown up, you — at least theoretically — put away childish things. But there are exceptions, as violinist Hilary Hahn proves in her latest recording project.

Dogs barking, wind howling, ice crunching, then the sudden "ch-ch-ch-ch" of a sawing beat: That's composer Derek Charke's opening salvo in his transporting piece Cercle du Nord III.

Just as we hit springtime (finally!), I think I've found the happiest song to greet the season. It comes courtesy of Tal National, a band from the West African country of Niger. This rollicking track is called "Zoy Zoy," which is also the name of their new album.

The eyes of the pop music world are on Austin, Texas this week. Thousands of bands and fans have descended upon the city for the South by Southwest music festival. Austin is also home to its own music scene year-round — and one of its more unusual groups is tapping into a sound that has nothing to do with indie rock or hip-hop. They're called Riyaaz Qawwali.

It was nearly 20 years ago, back in 1997, that the Buena Vista Social Club became an improbable worldwide sensation: a group of mainly elderly (and some younger) Cuban musicians, performing traditional son music for an album produced by Ry Cooder.

Ethan Hawke might strike you as an unlikely guide to classical music. But in directing his first documentary, Seymour: An Introduction, he created an intriguing and ultimately profoundly moving tribute to a largely unknown artist, 86-year-old pianist Seymour Bernstein.

There's a kind of little village of artisans on Manhattan's West 54th Street. In a couple of plain looking office towers, there are a bunch of rehearsal studios, violin makers' workshops and other music businesses. Behind one of those office doors on the 10th floor sits Frank Music Company — Frank's, as everybody calls it.

It was supposed to be a celebratory occasion, a high-profile performance of a piece given life by the orchestra that commissioned it — a young composer's music played by other young musicians.

Instead, the performance scheduled for Sunday of Jonas Tarm's music at Carnegie Hall by the highly regarded New York Youth Symphony (NYYS) has been canceled after it came to the attention of the ensemble's administration that the piece contains a quotation from the Nazi "Horst Wessel Lied."

One of the best recently released music documentaries — The Last Song Before The War — wasn't originally supposed to be about music.

By some measures, China is now the world's largest economy. It's also a gigantic market for American brands, from Hollywood blockbusters to KFC and Pizza Hut. But one Chinese conductor, Long Yu, would like these cultures to hear each other a little more clearly. He's launching a new project to do just that, and it's starting tonight with the New York Philharmonic.

I fell hard for the 20-year-old twin sisters of Ibeyi last summer, when they released the entrancing, unsettling video for their single "River." The way that Lisa-Kainde and Naomi Diaz mixed deep soul with Afro-Cuban tradition and electronic textures resulted in one of the best new cuts I'd heard in ages. Ever since, I've eagerly awaited their self-titled full-length debut — and that impatience has been rewarded.

Four a cappella voices making divine music: This has been the heart of Anonymous 4's mission for nearly three decades. And as the group bids farewell this season, they're saying goodbye in a poignant way — with the release of an album that couldn't feel more timely. It commemorates the 150th anniversary of the end of the Civil War and the beginning of Reconstruction.

For the past few years, member station Q2 in New York City has been enlisting listeners in a thought-provoking year-end poll. Forget the best music of the last year — what are the very best compositions of the last century?

What's some of the most exciting music from 2014?

Find out with our member station Q2 Music, which is hosting an evening dedicated to three important album releases from the year nearly past. The concert takes place at The Greene Space in New York on Dec. 2 at 7 PM.

"Did you know that every time musicians pick up their instruments, there are fireworks going off all over their brain?"

Maybe this trajectory mirrors the Kansas City Royals' unlikely road to the pennant: An opera star beats out much more mainstream artists to sing the national anthem at the decisive World Series Game 7.

Hear the eminent pianist in a recital of sublime works spanning Classical-era elegance and introspective Romantic drama.

It's become a trope that artists aren't interested in being limited by genre — at least the really fascinating ones, that is. One of the most enjoyable current examples of this reach beyond stylistic divides is Almanac, the newest project from the string quartet Brooklyn Rider.

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