Chris Thile is the holder of the 2018–2019 Richard and Barbara Debs Composer’s Chair at Carnegie Hall.
Multiple Grammy Award winner and MacArthur Fellow Chris Thile—a member of Punch Brothers and Nickel Creek, and now the host of the radio program Live from Here—is a mandolin virtuoso, composer, and vocalist. With his broad outlook, Thile transcends the borders of conventionally circumscribed genres, creating a distinctly American canon and a new musical aesthetic for performers and audiences alike.
A child prodigy, Thile first rose to fame as a member of Grammy Award–winning trio Nickel Creek, with whom he released four albums and sold more than two million records. In 2014, along with a national tour, the trio released a new album, A Dotted Line—its first since 2005.
As a soloist, Thile has released several albums, including his most recent, Thanks for Listening, a collection of recordings produced by Thomas Bartlett that were originally written as “Songs of the Week” for Live from Here. In February 2013, Thile won a Grammy for his work on The Goat Rodeo Sessions, collaborating with Yo-Yo Ma, Edgar Meyer, and Stuart Duncan. In September 2014, Thile and Meyer released their latest album collaboration, Bass & Mandolin, which won the Grammy for Best Contemporary Instrumental Album. Punch Brothers released its latest album, All Ashore, in July 2018, described as “a call to savor, to pay attention, to step back from the hustle and bustle and remember the importance of being calm” (PopMatters).
In 2018, Sarah Jarosz and her bandmates Sara Watkins and Aoife O’Donovan, collectively I’m With Her, released their debut album, See You Around, on Rounder Records. “Together their sound is both ethereal and purposeful, a combination of searing musicianship and tender vocals,” said The Guardian. The band has since played sold-out shows across North America and Europe, and graced major festival stages. I’m With Her will close out the year opening shows for Steve Martin and Martin Short; in 2019, the band makes its Australian debut at Byron Bay Bluesfest. In addition to I’m With Her’s appearance on the show, Jarosz frequently appears on the Chris Thile–hosted Live from Here and also sang on the song “Modern Friendship” on his recent album Thanks for Listening.
Taken under the wings of the folk and bluegrass world at an early age, Jarosz released her first album on Sugar Hill Records, Song Up in Her Head. With her fourth solo effort, 2016’s Undercurrent, she made a studied departure from her previous records, shifting the emphasis from her skills as a multi-instrumentalist to her songwriting and vocal performance. Undercurrent accentuates the growth and maturity that Jarosz has achieved since graduating from the New England Conservatory and moving to New York City. The change in approach garnered Jarosz two Grammy Awards in 2017—Best Folk Album for Undercurrent and Best American Roots Performance for “House of Mercy.” Undercurrent also picked up the award for 2017 Album of the Year from Folk Alliance International.
Recognized for her ethereal voice and substantive songwriting, Aoife O’Donovan is also known for her collaborations. Called “a vocalist of unerring instinct” by The New York Times, O’Donovan is one of the most sought-after vocalists and songwriters of her generation. Her career has allowed her to collaborate with some of the most eminent names in music across a wide variety of genres.
The most recent example is I’m With Her, the band comprising Sara Watkins, Sarah Jarosz, and O’Donovan. Their debut album, See You Around, has garnered praise from NPR, who instantly hailed the collection as “willfully openhearted.”
As a solo artist, O’Donovan has released two studio albums: Fossils (2013) and In the Magic Hour (2016). Touring in support of In the Magic Hour—a 10-song collection full of O’Donovan’s honeyed vocals mixed with gauzy, frictionless sounds—led to the live album Man in a Neon Coat: Live from Cambridge.
O’Donovan spent the preceding decade as the lead singer of the Boston-based string band Crooked Still, and as a featured vocalist on The Goat Rodeo Sessions, the Grammy-winning album by Yo-Yo Ma, Stuart Duncan, Edgar Meyer, and Chris Thile. Throughout her career, she has also collaborated with artists such as Alison Krauss and jazz trumpeter Dave Douglas, and is currently a member of the house band on the radio variety show Live from Here.