Folkadelphia Session: Nadia Sirota and Valgeir Sigurðsson

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Photo by John Vettese

While she may not quite be a household name, especially for people tuning in or checking out our “folk-adjacent” radio show, Nadia Sirota, New York based violist, may very well have played on one of your favorite records or even changed your life while playing live with any number of musicians, bands, ensembles, or orchestras. Among her many accomplishments, she has been featured on albums from the Arcade Fire, Grizzly Bear, and the National, performed with the Swell Season, Sam Amidon, and Max Richter, hosted WQXR’s Q2 station, and engaged with music students through a variety of programs. Sirota acts a conduit for musical excellence and progress and a connector between the vast array of genres that we, the listeners encounter so frequently and randomly in the modern age. She seems to puzzle it out, make sense of the noise, and bring a unique perspective to the mix. Perhaps that is why composers like Nico Muhly and Shara Worden (My Brighest Diamond) seek out her services and interpretations for their own pieces.

It is on Baroque, Sirota’s latest album, that she calls upon her friends and musical compatriots, like Muhly and Worden, and also Judd Greenstein, Missy Mazzoli, Paul Corley, and Daniel Bjarnason, to contribute pieces that display her own flexibility and singularity in playing and rendering musical ideas. Each composition feels and sounds wholly unique, but at the center of it all and what is common to each piece is not only Sirota’s attention to the detail of the musical content, but also the bredth and depth of the emotional content contained within each piece. For non-musical listeners who may not understand the compositions’ intricacies, Sirota channels the heart and soul of the works in a way that can affect everyone.

Still, for our “folk-ish” radio show, it may seem odd to feature Sirota and Valgeir Sigurðsson, who produced, played on, mixed and mastered Baroque, and is also, separately, a brilliant musician and producer in his own right. To that claim, I point back to Sirota’s personal example. She succeeds in bringing all manner of art and music together to create what I consider truly modern music. It mines the past for inspiration, it draws from the contemporary musical community, and it looks to the future for what could be next. We hope to do the same here with Folkadelphia.

Please enjoy Nadia Sirota’s renditions of “In Teaching Others We Teach Ourselves,” composed by Judd Greenstein and “Etude 3,” composed by Nico Muhly, as well as Valgeir Sigurðsson’s “The Crumbling.” These were recorded live at the XPN Performance Studio on March 28th, 2013 before their concert at the First Unitarian Church Chapel (presented by R5 Productions).