Nadia Sirota, Gabriel Cabezas & James McVinnie

viola, cello, and piano

March 15, 2020, 4 PM

Music Room

New music powerhouse Nadia Sirota returns to the Phillips for a collaboration with pianist James McVinnie and cellist Gabriel Cabezas. Their intelligent and exquisitely balanced program splices together music by some of today’s most dynamic composers with intimate solo works and arrangements of music by J.S. Bach. In a musical meditation that moves seamlessly between the centuries, music by Philip Glass, Nico Muhly, Caroline Shaw, Gabriella Smith, and Missy Mazzoli finds unexpected yet inspired communion with selections from Bach’s French Overture BWV 831, Cello Suites No. 5 and No. 6, and Contrapunctus 5 and 6 from his seminal, unfinished The Art of Fugue.

Program to be announced.

Violist Nadia Sirota’s varied career spans solo performances, chamber music, curation, and broadcasting. In all branches of her artistic life she aims to open classical music up to a broader audience. Nadia’s singular sound and expressive execution have served as muse to dozens of composers, including Nico Muhly, Bryce Dessner, Missy Mazzoli, Daníel Bjarnason, Judd Greenstein, Marcos Balter, and David Lang. Nadia won a 2015 Peabody Award, broadcasting’s highest honor, for her podcast Meet the Composer, “the world’s best contemporary classical music podcast” (Pitchfork), which deftly profiled some of the most interesting musical thinkers living today. 

Since 2018, Nadia has served as the New York Philharmonic’s Creative Partner, a position created for her. In this role, she helped create and hosts two series: Nightcap and Sound ON, the latter of which she also curates. In addition, Nadia works with the Philharmonic on contemporary music initiatives across the organization. 

As a soloist, Nadia has appeared with acclaimed orchestras around the world, including the Detroit Symphony, the Colorado Symphony, the National Arts Centre Orchestra, the Spanish National Orchestra, and the Orchestre National d’Île-de-France. To date, she has released four solo albums of commissioned music, first things first (2009), Baroque (2013), Keep In Touch (2016), and Tessellatum (2017). Nadia is a member of Bedroom Community, a collective of musically diverse artists who work and collaborate at Reykjavik’s Greenhouse Studios. She has also lent her sound to recording and concert projects by such artists as The National, David Bowie, and Björk. 

Nadia is a member of the acclaimed chamber sextet yMusic. Their virtuosic execution and unique configuration have attracted high profile collaborators including Paul Simon, Ben Folds, and Anohni, and inspired an expanding repertoire of original works by prominent composers including Andrew Norman, Caroline Shaw, and Chris Thile. 

Nadia has received the ASCAP Deems Taylor Award for her work in radio, and Southern Methodist University’s Meadows Prize, awarded to pioneering artists and scholars with an emerging international profile. She sits on the board of directors of Chamber Music America, the national service organization for ensemble music professionals. Nadia received her undergraduate and Master’s degrees from the Juilliard School, where she studied with Heidi Castleman, Misha Amory, and Hsin-Yun Huang.  

Organist James McVinnie’s boundless approach to music has lead him to collaborations with some of the world’s leading composers, producers and performers. Nico Muhly, Tom Jenkinson/Squarepusher, artist Martin Creed, Richard Reed Parry of Arcade Fire, Shara Nova, David Chalmin, Hildur Guðnadóttir, Sarah Davachi, David Lang, and Bryce Dessner (amongst many others) have written works for him. 

McVinnie is a member of Icelandic record label Bedroom Community. Cycles, his debut recording of music written for him by Nico Muhly, was released on this label in 2013 to widespread critical acclaim. An album of music by Philip Glass, The Grid, was released on Orange Mountain Music in 2018. 

This season’s highlights include the first performances of Philip Glass’s Symphony 12 Lodger with Angekique Kidjo and the Los Angeles Philharmonic under John Adams and in London with the London Contemporary Orchestra at Southbank Centre, a Messiaen recital in Lieu Unique Festival, performances of Nico Muhly’s organ concerto with the Philadelphia Orchestra, an evening-length collaboration with electronic duo Darkstar for the Liquid Music series, and the release of an album of music written for McVinnie by Tom Jenkinson (Squarepusher) on Warp Records. He also appears in recital at Paris Philharmonie and London’s Southbank and Barbican Centres. 

McVinnie was Assistant Organist of Westminster Abbey from 2008-11. Prior to this appointment, he held similar positions at St Paul’s Cathedral, St Albans Cathedral, and Clare College, Cambridge where he studied music. His teachers were Sarah Baldock, Thomas Trotter and Hans Fagius. He made his debut at London’s Royal Festival Hall in March 2014, giving one of the six reopening recitals on the refurbished iconic 1954 Harrison & Harrison organ. He made his solo debut in the Salzburg Festival at age 26 performing with the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra under Ivor Bolton.

Hailed as “an intense player who connects to the music naturally, without artifice, and [who] brings a singing line to the cello” (The Oregonian), cellist Gabriel Cabezas is one of America’s most sought after young musicians. Combining superb technique, intellectual curiosity, and a pioneering musical spirit, he is equally at home in front of an orchestra, collaborating with a singer-songwriter, or sharing the stage with dancers. A winner of Astral’s 2014 National Auditions, he has been featured as soloist with the New York Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony, The Philadelphia Orchestra, Cleveland Orchestra, Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Pittsburgh Symphony, New World Symphony, Nashville Symphony, and the Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional de Costa Rica, among others. His debut performance with the Cleveland Orchestra was described as “remarkably poised and elegant…with superb attention to phrasing, nuance, and tonal coloration” (The Plain Dealer).

An avid chamber musician, Cabezas tours with “Musicians from Marlboro” and has collaborated with such artists as Yo-Yo Ma, Edgar Meyer, and Mitsuko Uchida. He is also a member of the New York sextet yMusic, hailed by NPR’s Fred Child as “one of the groups that has really helped to shape the future of classical music.” Their virtuosic execution and unique configuration (string trio, flute, clarinet, and trumpet) has attracted the attention of high profile collaborators—from Dirty Projectors to Paul Simon—and has inspired an expanding repertoire of original works by some of today’s foremost composers. He is also the co-founder of Duende, a new music and contemporary dance collective that focuses on the interaction between performers and dancers in the live realization of new scores.

Born and raised in Chicago, Cabezas also has strong family ties to Costa Rica; his great uncle founded the country’s National Conservatory and is the only Costa Rican musician to have performed at Carnegie Hall in the 20th century. Cabezas returns often to play with the Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional de Costa Rica and to work with students at the Programa Nacional de Educación Musical.

Gabriel Cabezas studied at the Curtis Institute of Music with Carter Brey, and is a recipient of a Career Grant from the Rachel Elizabeth Barton Foundation. He received a 2016 Sphinx Medal of Excellence, a career grant awarded to emerging classical artists of color, who, early in their professional career, demonstrate artistic excellence, outstanding work ethic, a spirit of determination, and ongoing commitment to leadership. As a Sphinx Medal winner, he recorded Britten’s Suites for Solo Cello. Cabezas was also twice the First Place Laureate at the Sphinx Competition—in the Junior Division (2006) and in the Senior Division (2012). A committed advocate for community engagement and education programs across the country, he is involved with the Sphinx Organization, Midori’s Partners in Performance, and Chicago’s Citizen Musician movement.