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.

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.

All too often, "fusion" is a rightfully dread-inducing term to describe music that tries to occupy several spheres at once, usually unsuccessfully. So let's not use that label on the brilliant, wide-ranging music of Ljova and the Kontraband, a group that embraces Western classical, jazz and an array of international styles including tango and Eastern European and Balkan folk music. These top-flight musicians, who hail from Russia, Lithuania, the U.S.

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: 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.


One of West Africa's most charming bands is back — again. Almost a decade after the group's last album and nearly 50 years since its founding, Senegal's Orchestra Baobab is swaggering back onto international dance floors with its silk, sultry songs, layering Afro-Cuban sounds with local traditions and pop styles from across Senegal and elsewhere in West Africa.

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.

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.

Practice is a physical activity, of course, but it's also hard mental work — if you're doing it right. A new video published by TED Ed gets down to the scientific nitty-gritty of what good practice looks like, and what it does to your brain. (Think axons and myelin, not "muscle memory" — muscles don't have "memory.")

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.

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