(WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass.) – Acclaimed contemporary violist Nadia Sirota – one of my favorite new-music instrumentalists – will give a solo recital interspersed with an interpretive and narrative talk on her collaborations with contemporary composers and the creation of her hit radio show “Meet the Composer” at Williams College on Thursday, February 25, at 5pm in Brooks-Rogers Recital Hall, Bernhard Music Center. The event is free and open to the public.
In addition to her solo work, Sirota is a member of yMusic, Alarm Will Sound, and ACME (the American Contemporary Music Ensemble), and has lent her sound to recording and concert projects by such artists and songwriters as Grizzly Bear, Jónsi, and Arcade Fire.
Sirota’s debut album, “First Things First,” was released in 2009 and named a record of the year by the New York Times. Her second album, “Baroque,” was released in 2013. The six pieces on Baroque were written with Sirota’s distinctive sound in mind and recorded (by her longtime collaborators at Bedroom Community) to exaggerate the idiosyncracies of her tone. Nico Muhly, Daníel Bjarnason and Paul Corley provide three pieces, while composers Judd Greenstein, Shara Worden and Missy Mazzoli provide the other three.
Sirota’s approach to the instrument owes something to recent trends in Baroque playing. She can keep her bow-hand light and her left hand still, for a gin-dry sound. It’s a sound prized by, among others, Nico Muhly, who thinks of Sirota as his most trusted interpreter — another reason being the sort of rhythmic precision his “Étude 3” demands, with an almost wicked glee. Paul Corley creates a piece to which timbre is so central that the voice of Sirota’s instrument seems as much a part of the composition as the notes she plays. His “Tristan da Cunha” — dark, extreme, and alarmingly detailed — is “Baroque” in the sense of “Brueghel-esque.”
Sirota is also the host of “Meet the Composer,” a podcast from Q2 Music that takes listeners into the minds and creative processes of composers making some of the most innovative music today. Each episode aims to show the listener who the composer is as a person, a thinker, and an artist.
“A one-woman contemporary-classical commissioning machine” (Pitchfork), violist Nadia Sirota is best known for her singular sound and expressive execution, coaxing works and collaborations from the likes of Nico Muhly, Daníel Bjarnason, Valgeir Sigurosson, Judd Greenstein, Marcos Balter, and Missy Mazzoli.
Her debut album “First Things First” (New Amsterdam Records) was named a record of the year by the New York Times, and her follow-up “Baroque” (Bedroom Community and New Amsterdam) has been called “beautiful music of a higher order than anything else you will hear this year” by SPINMedia website PopMatters.
This season, Sirota premieres both a new concerto written for her by longtime collaborator Nico Muhly and a new podcast, Meet the Composer on Q2 Music, exploring the work of living composers through her interviews and musical selections. She was awarded the 2010 ASCAP Deems Taylor Award in Radio and Internet Broadcasting for her previous show on Q2 Music.
In 2013, Sirota won Southern Methodist University’s 2013 Meadows Prize, awarded to pioneering artists and scholars with an emerging international profile. She received her undergraduate and Master’s degrees from the Juilliard School, where she performed as co-founder of the AXIOM ensemble, initiated the Castleman/Amory/Huang studio’s New Music Project, and created the Juilliard Plays Juilliard program for student composers and performers. After winning the top prize in Juilliard’s 2005 concerto competition, Nadia performed Hindemith’s Der Schwanendreher with conductor Marin Alsop and the Juilliard Orchestra in Alice Tully Hall. As a chamber musician, Nadia has collaborated with such artists as Joseph Kalichstein, Itzhak Perlman, and the Silk Road Ensemble, as well as with members of Kronos Quaret, the Chiara Quartet, and the Peabody Trio. In the fall of 2007, Nadia joined the faculty of the Manhattan School of Music for its new Masters Program in Contemporary Music Performance.