If you think you know chamber music, think again. Brooklyn Rider has been described as “four classical musicians with the energy of young rock stars jamming on their guitars, a Beethoven-goes-indie foray into making classical music accessible but also celebrating why it was good in the first place” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Johnny Gandelsman on violin, Colin Jacobsen on violin, Nicholas Cords on viola and Michael Nicolas on cello offer an eclectic repertoire that is as much at home at the SXSW Festival in Austin as at Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall. Their first album, Passport, was selected by NPR as one of the best classical albums of the year, and they were chosen by composer Philip Glass to record his complete string quartets, including the world premiere recording of his “Bent Suite.” They are known for playing unusual works and for collaborating with musicians not traditionally associated with classical music.
To celebrate its 10th anniversary in 2015, the group put together a ground-breaking multi-disciplinary project, Brooklyn Rider Almanac, for which it recorded and toured 15 specially commissioned works, each inspired by a different artistic muse. Other recent recordings include 2016,’s The Fiction Issue, with music by Gabriel Kahane, and The Impostor, with Bela Fleck. In 2018, Brooklyn Rider released Dreams with celebrated Mexican jazz vocalist Magos Herrera. The recording includes pieces written to texts by Octavio Paz, Ruben Diario, and Federico Garcia Lorca. Their first stop to support the recording? New York City’s Jazz at Lincoln Center. They also debuted their “Healing Modes” project, which presents Beethoven’s Opus 132 in its entirety, alongside five compact new commissions which explore the subject of healing from a wide range of historical and cultural perspectives.
Brooklyn Rider has worked on several projects with banjoist Bela Fleck and has also partnered with two other artists at the forefront of their respective genres: jazz saxophonist Joshua Redman and Irish fiddle master Martin Hayes. In the midst of these exciting collaborations, the quartet performed across the U.S. and Europe. They have also spent time teaching, with past residencies at Dartmouth College. Williams College, the University of North Carolina and Texas A & M University.
For Johnny Gandelsman, this is an exciting time to be an artist. In a radio interview on WGBH, he explained why collaborations were so important to the group. “There’s a freedom for musicians (right now) to go after the things they’re really passionate about and make it work, a do-it-yourself feeling, and it’s just incredible how many ensembles there are that explore world music and bring influences of that in what they do. It’s a really exciting time to be a musician. In a way, commissioning all these different composers is a way of celebrating this larger community that we are a part of. Even the people we haven’t’ met personally, it does feel like we’re in it together, making things happen. And that’s an exciting thing.”
Come share the excitement.