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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.

This post was updated on Sunday, June 25 at 3:50 PM.

How is this for a first day on the job: Maurice Murphy, the London Symphony Orchestra (LSO)'s late principal trumpet player, spent his very first day with the orchestra recording Star Wars' iconic opening theme, with its incredible brass fanfare — and Murphy leading the trumpets.

The music of the late Alice Coltrane Turiyasangitananda, the wife of the jazz giant John Coltrane, has always rested somewhat in the shadows. It didn't help that she gave her career up — to become a spiritual leader.

A video of Russian President Vladimir Putin taking a turn at the ivories in Beijing is currently making the Internet rounds.

A newly released, not-quite-reissue album has shed some very eagerly awaited light on rarely heard music music made by one of the most fascinating — and even arguably misunderstood — musicians in jazz: the late pianist, organist, harpist, keyboard player, composer and spiritual leader Alice Coltrane Turiyasangitananda.

There's a musical asterisk on French president-elect Emmanuel Macron's bio: He is an avid amateur pianist. It's a facet of his life occasionally noted in passing, as in this piece from the French radio network Europe 1 titled "The Things You Don't Yet Know About Emmanuel Macron." Along with mentioning his abiding fondness for karaoke, Europe 1 reported that he studied piano for 10 years at the music conservatory in Amiens, where he won third prize.

Conductor Gustavo Dudamel — one of the most famous Venezuelans in the world today and one of the world's most prominent classical musicians — issued an open letter today to the president and government in his native country.

Long reticent to address politics directly, he has published his comments in a letter titled "Levanto Mi Voz / I Raise My Voice," in both Spanish and English. (The full text is below, in both languages.)

Yesterday, former President Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama unveiled ambitious architectural plans for the Obama Presidential Center, a three-building complex slated for completion in 2021, to be located in the Jackson Park neighborhood on Chicago's South Side.

Note: NPR's First Listen audio comes down after the album is released. However, you can still listen with the Spotify or Apple Music playlist at the bottom of the page.


Multi-instrumentalist, composer, spiritual leader and the wife of John Coltrane, Alice Coltrane Turiyasangitananda (1937-2007) long stood in her husband's shadow. Some certain number of more casual jazz fans, if they have known her name at all, only know it from sidewoman credits on some of his albums, and not for her own performances and recordings.

This story was updated on April 26 at 3:00 PM.

Beyoncé's "visual album" Lemonade was released a year ago this week, but its impact continues to unfold. Just last week, the project won a Peabody Award. But the singer is also focusing on making its resonance felt through a very different vehicle: a group of scholarships called the "Formation Scholars" awards.

Creative works by and about musicians turned out to be big winners among this year's Peabody Awards. Among this year's honorees are Beyoncé and Donald Glover, whose prizes were announced today, and two documentaries announced earlier this week: the films Hip-Hop Evolution and MAVIS!

Sylvia Moy was one of the first female producers at Detroit's legendary Motown Records, co-writing hits for artists like Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye and The Isley Brothers. Moy died on Saturday at age 78 in Dearborn, Michigan from complications of pneumonia.

A 23-year-old, Russian-born violinist named Artem Kolesov is capturing international attention after posting a YouTube video in which he comes out as gay.

Sometimes, highly anticipated live concerts knock other priorities right off the calendar — in the case of Britney Spears and Israel, even an election.

According to a report in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz published today, Britney Spears' July 3 concert in Tel Aviv's HaYarkon Park is delaying the Labor Party's leadership vote by a day. The election was originally scheduled to take place on the same day at the Convention Center for Labor, which is adjacent to the park.

Note: This report has been significantly updated since its original online publication on March 21.

The news that the U.S. is placing restrictions on what airline passengers can carry in the cabin on direct flights from eight majority-Muslim nations is creating ripples of concern throughout the arts community.

This story was updated on March 14 at 4:35 PM.

Last Friday afternoon, a controversy erupted about the Italian post-punk band Soviet Soviet, who were denied entrance to the United States on Wednesday and detained overnight before being deported back to Italy.

This story was updated on March 12 at 12:01 PM.

Friday afternoon, the Italian trio Soviet Soviet posted a lengthy statement on Facebook explaining why it would not be keeping its U.S. tour dates this week and next: It had been deported.

An impresario and producer who helped launch the careers of many marquee-name musicians, comedians and actors — including Bob Dylan, Woody Allen and Bruce Lee — has died. Fred Weintraub was 88 years old.

His wife, Jackie, confirmed his death to NPR. He died at their home in Pacific Palisades, Calif. on March 5, due to complications related to Parkinson's disease.

Last week, a fierce battle was pitched between the Austin, Texas-based music mega-festival South by Southwest (SXSW) and artists who took exception to a certain passage in the agreements which SXSW sends to its performers.

Here's your "Awwww" and "Whoa!!" moment for today: a demonstration of a teeny-tiny, working pipe organ. It's an instrument made out of nothing but paper and cardboard (with one side covered by translucent plastic so that you can see its inner workings), and it's powered by nothing but an inflated balloon.

The Polish-born conductor and composer Stanislaw Skrowaczewski, who led the Minnesota Orchestra for nearly two decades and worked with that symphony for well over 50 years in total, died Tuesday at age 93.

A 1960s cult favorite is back: The Shaggs are going to be performing in June at Wilco's Solid Sound Festival in North Adams, Massachusetts.

Butch Trucks, a drummer who was one of the founding members of The Allman Brothers Band, died Tuesday night, according to his publicist. He was 69.

The group became iconic for its sprawling mix of Southern rock and jam-band improvisation — and Trucks was one of its rhythmic lynchpins. The Allman Brothers featured two drummers, Jaimoe Johansen and Butch Trucks. Their interlocking rhythms propelled the sound of the band in songs like "Ramblin' Man," "Whipping Post" and "In Memory of Elizabeth Reed."

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