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.

In a season of relentless shouting, the best antidote might be singing. Mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato's new album with conductor Maxim Emelyanychev and the ensemble Il Pomo d'Oro, In War & Peace: Harmony Through Music, uses Baroque arias to explore the pain and possibilities of these troubled times. A companion website invites anyone and everyone to answer the simple but loaded question, "In the midst of chaos, how do you find peace?"

It's tough to think of a major honor that hasn't been bestowed on Bob Dylan in his long career, but Thursday brought a new addition to his crowded awards shelf: the Nobel Prize for Literature. Not only is Dylan the first American to win the literary prize in a generation — the last being Toni Morrison in 1993 — he is the first modern songwriter to be so honored.

Today, Amazon announced the debut of an on-demand music-streaming service called Amazon Music Unlimited. With a subscription model like Spotify and Apple Music, Amazon will charge standard subscribers $10 per month; for Amazon Prime subscribers, just $8 a month; and for users of its Echo devices, only $4 a month.

Brian Eno. David Bowie. Kraftwerk. Radiohead. Aphex Twin. The National. These are just some of the contemporary artists and bands who have looked up to American composer Steve Reich.

Neville Marriner, the conductor and violinist who was something of an entrepreneur as well as the guiding spirit behind one of the most successful classical recordings of all time — the soundtrack to the 1984 smash movie Amadeus — died overnight at age 92 at his home in London. His death was announced by the chamber orchestra he founded, the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields.

The political endorsement song is a strange beast. It's something more than just a campaign anthem — the kind of track that pumps up rally audiences before a candidate's entrance onstage. Instead, this kind of tune is an odd hybrid: part commercial jingle, part aspirational anthem and, with nearly no exceptions, a soon-forgotten novelty. (One outlier: the sturdy Whig song "Tippecanoe and Tyler Too" from the 1840 presidential campaign, which was most recently resurrected by They Might Be Giants in 2004.)

American composer Julia Wolfe has won one of the biggest windfalls in the arts world. She is one of this year's MacArthur Fellows, recipients of the so-called "genius grants" given to a wide range of talented figures from the arts, humanities, sciences and social services. The 2016 class of fellows was announced early Thursday morning.

Just this afternoon, it looked like David Bowie was a shoo-in for this year's Mercury Prize. Even though the prestigious U.K. award had never before been given to an artist posthumously, Blackstar was the final and widely adored album from a British rock god. Even bookies were betting on Bowie as a 4/7 favorite.

When you think of an orchestra, you're probably picturing refined woodwoods, brass, and strings. But one ensemble I recently met is made up mostly of kids who play instruments made out of literal trash. This is the Recycled Orchestra from Cateura, Paraguay, and their group is the subject of a new documentary film.

It was just two years ago that Mauritanian vocalist Noura Mint Seymali hit the international scene — but now, it's hard to imagine the scope of African music without her. The singer and her band blow listeners away with giddily woozy and dreamlike vocals; blistering guitar played by her husband, Jeiche Ould Chighaly; and the grounding elements of Ousmane Touré's bass and Matthew Tinari's drums.

Thursday night, singer Frank Ocean released a long-awaited new work: Endless, available exclusively — at least for now — as a 45-minute film on Apple Music.

This is Ocean's first studio project since his Channel Orange was released in 2012, the musician's breakout year as a solo artist after his days as a member of the Odd Future collective and, prior to that, as a songwriter for artists like Justin Bieber, John Legend and Brandy.

For consumers, "free" is rarely ever free — especially when it comes to social media and other online platforms. In exchange for utilizing services like Facebook, for example, users allow information about themselves — everything from their ages and zip codes to the particular products, services and companies they like — to be collected, sliced, diced, and sometimes given to other advertisers, who pay for access to that information.

Sick of getting your view blocked at live shows by people holding up their phones? Apple was granted a patent yesterday for technology that can disable those cameras — at least in specific places.

When we invited the band Mashrou' Leila to come play at the Tiny Desk, we couldn't have foreseen the timing.

The group arrived at our office the morning after the horrific June 12 shootings in Orlando at the gay nightclub Pulse. We were all collectively reeling from the news, and for this rock band from Beirut, Lebanon, the attack hung very heavily.

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

Since it was founded by cellist Yo-Yo Ma 16 years ago, the Silk Road Ensemble — an artistic collective comprised of master musicians and other artists from more than 20 countries, spanning the globe — has become an incubator for inspiring cross-cultural collaborations.

Director Morgan Neville made one of the most memorable music documentaries in recent times. His 2013 film 20 Feet from Stardom, for which he won an Oscar and a Grammy, chronicled the paths of five undersung rock heroes: the backup singers who enlivened some of popular music's biggest hits.

It's not quite right to say the news came as a shock when the Metropolitan Opera announced Thursday that Yannick Nézet-Séguin would become the house's new music director, beginning in the 2020-21 season. He follows in the footsteps of James Levine, who said in April that he was stepping down after leading the Met for four decades.

Looking for a musically sensitive, responsive bandmate? Maybe you should try out Shimon.

One of the world's best-known and best-loved classical musicians has joined the ranks of artists refusing to perform in North Carolina. Violinist Itzhak Perlman canceled an appearance scheduled for Wednesday with the North Carolina Symphony in Raleigh to protest HB2, the controversial North Carolina law limiting civil rights protections for LGBT people.

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