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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Throughout this month, the Brooklyn Academy of Music's signature Next Wave Festival is celebrating a record label with which it shares history and purpose: Nonesuch, marking its 50th anniversary this year.

Update Wednesday, June 25, 2014: A representative from Sotheby's tells NPR that the instrument did not sell "at this time."

Wednesday, Sotheby's auction house plans to announce the sale of a rare viola made by Antonio Stradivari. The minimum bid is $45 million. If it sells, it will be the most expensive instrument of any kind in history.

Here's an old musician joke: How do you keep your violin from getting stolen? Put it in a viola case.

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