top of page

Johnny Gandelsman:
This Is America

Sunday, September 18, 2022 | 5:00 PM

Cove Street Arts | Portland 

Co-founder of the adventurous string quartet Brooklyn Rider, Johnny Gandelsman has re-imagined the works of Bach, recording not only the complete violin sonatas and partitas, but also the complete cello suites, praised by the New York Times for “an improvisatory feel of folk music.” His new project, “This Is America,” is a set of commissioned works for solo violin highlighting a diverse group of composers representing myriad genres and backgrounds. This concert includes a new composition by Tomeka Reid, co-commissioned by PCMF in partnership with Laura Freid and David Gottesman in memory of Chris Marrion, and the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society. 

Johnny Gandelsman, violin

J.S. Bach (transcribed for violin) Cello Suite No. 3 in C Major, BWV 1009 (1717-1723)

Tomeka Reid Rhapsody (2021)*

Christina Courtin Stroon (2021)

Tyshawn Sorey For Courtney Bryan (2021)

Ebun Oguntola Reflections (2021)

Justin Messina Music For Solitude (2021)

Rhiannon Giddens New To The Session (2021)

*PCMF commission, Maine premiere 


~COVID Policy: Please note that until further notice, properly fitted masks must be worn by all patrons at all times during the concert.

Doors at 4:30 PM, concert starts promptly at 5:00 PM. Concert run time is approximately 90 min with no intermission.

PLEASE NOTE: Belleflower Brewing Company (directly across the street from Cove Street Arts) will be having an event on Sunday from 12-7 PM, and parking in the area may be unusually difficult. Please allow extra time, and consider carpooling if possible. 

Click here for

program notes.

Meet Johnny


Johnny Gandelsman

Grammy® award-winning violinist and producer Johnny Gandelsman's musical voice reflects the artistic collaborations he has been a part of since moving to the United States in 1995. Richard Brody of The New Yorker has called Johnny Gandelsman “revelatory” in concert, placing him in the company of “radically transformative” performers like Maurizio Pollini, Peter Serkin and Christian Zacharias.

As a founding member of Brooklyn Rider and a member of the Silkroad Ensemble, Johnny has closely worked with such luminaries as Bela Fleck, Martin Hayes, Kayhan Kalhor, Yo-Yo Ma, Mark Morris, Anne Sofie Van Otter, Alim Qasimov & Fargana Qasimova, Joshua Redman, Suzanne Vega, Abigail Washburn and Damian Woetzel. He has appeared with Bono, David Byrne, Renee Fleming, Rhiannon Giddens, I'm With Her, Christian McBride, and many others.

Gandelsman integrates a wide range of creative sensibilities into a unique style amongst today's violinists, one that according to the Boston Globe, possesses "a balletic lightness of touch and a sense of whimsy and imagination". Johnny's recording of the complete Bach Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin, which reached #1 on the Billboard Classical Chart, and made it onto NY Magazine and NY Times Best of the Year lists, was described by the Boston Globe as "...sparklingly personal Bach, shorn of grandeur, lofted by a spirit of dance, and as predictable as the flight of a swallow."

A passionate advocate for new music, Johnny has premiered dozens of new works, including music by Lisa Bielawa, Tyondai Braxton, Daniel Cords, Christina Courtin, Reena Esmail, Bela Fleck, Gabriela Lena Frank, Bill Frisell, Osvaldo Golijov, Gonzalo Grau, Ethan Iverson, Vijay Iyer, Colin Jacobsen, Gabriel Kahane, Rubin Kodheli, Angel Lam, Ljova, Dana Lyn, Nico Muhly, Padma Newsome, Shara Nova, Edward Perez, Matana Roberts, Kyle Sanna, Gregory Saunier, Caroline Shaw, Kojiro Umezaki, Dmitri Yanov-Yanovsky, Du Yun, Evan Ziporyn and John Zorn.

Johnny has been producing records since starting his label, In a Circle Records in 2008. Recent credits include Ken Burns & Lynn Novick's PBS documentary film Hemingway, Silkroad Ensemble's Falling out of Time, Brooklyn Rider's Grammy®-nominated Healing Modes & Spontaneous Symbols (In a Circle Records); Magos Herrera & Brooklyn Rider's Dreamers (Sony); Johnny's own recording of JS Bach's Complete Cello Suites & Complete Sonatas and Partitas for Violin (In a Circle Records) and 2 albums with Silkroad Ensemble and Yo-Yo Ma: The Vietnam War, a documentary film by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick; and Silkroad Ensemble & Yo-Yo Ma's Sing Me Home, a Grammy®-award winner for Best World Music Album (Sony).

Johnny was born in Moscow into a family of musicians. His father Yuri is a world-renowned violist, his mother Janna is a pianist, and his sister Natasha is a violinist as well. He lives in Brooklyn with his partner, Amber Star Merkens, and their two kids, Julius Ivry and Raiya Leone.

Meet The Composers


J.S. Bach

Johann Sebastian Bach was a German composer and musician of the late Baroque period. He is known for his orchestral music such as the Brandenburg Concertos; instrumental compositions such as the Cello Suites; keyboard works such as the Goldberg Variations and The Well-Tempered Clavier; organ works such as the Schubler Chorales and the Toccata and Fugue in D minor; and vocal music such as the St Matthew Passion and the Mass in B minor. Since the 19th-century Bach revival he has been generally regarded as one of the greatest composers in the history of Western music.

Christina Courtin.jpeg

Chrstina Courtin
b. 1984

Meandering through all walks of musical life, violinist, violist, vocalist and composer Christina Courtin was deeply rooted in classical music at a very early age. She studied violin at Juilliard and continues to perform in The Knights, based in New York City. Alongside of playing violin, Miss Courtin has developed a style of singing and writing that has lended itself to many welcomed opportunities. She has performed with such artists as Yo- Yo Ma, Dawn Upshaw, Don Byron, Teddy Thompson, Paula Robison, Kayne West, Mark O'Connor, Ryan Adams, Michael Ward-Bergeman, Brooklyn RIder, and Billy Martin. Christina is a recipient of the Charles Makish Award.

Rhiannon Giddens.webp

Rhiannon Giddens
b. 1977

The acclaimed musician Rhiannon Giddens uses her art to excavate the past and reveal bold truths about our present. A MacArthur “Genius Grant” recipient, Giddens co-founded the Grammy Award-winning Carolina Chocolate Drops, and she has been nominated for six additional Grammys for her work as a soloist and collaborator. She was most recently nominated for her collaboration with multi-instrumentalist Francesco Turrisi, there is no Other (2019). Giddens’s forthcoming album, They’re Calling Me Home, is a twelve-track album, recorded with Turrisi in Ireland during the recent lockdown; it speaks of the longing for the comfort of home as well as the metaphorical “call home” of death, which has been a tragic reality for so many during the COVID-19 crisis.  

Justin Messina.jpeg

Justin Messina
b. 1980

Justin Messina works with both acoustic and electronic means to create works that explore the expressive nature of sound.  These works range from large orchestral compositions to electronically created sound installations. 
His most recent album Shortwave Artifacts investigates the mysterious nature of radio. Made entirely of radio sounds and music for string ensemble, the album emerged naturally following a decade of working as a dj and producer. His works have been performed at major concert halls in the US and Europe, including Carnegie Hall, Cité de la Musique, Concertgebouw, and Wiener Musikverein.

Ebun Oguntola.jpeg

Ebun Oguntola
b. 2006

Ebun Oguntola is a composer, conductor, violinist, and pianist from Syracuse, New York. A sophomore at Jamesville-DeWitt High School, she studies with Natalie Draper of the Setnor School of Music at Syracuse University and Paul Coleman at the Eastman Community Music School. Ebun is a violinist in the Symphoria Young Artist Orchestra, and has composed music for Symphoria and its youth orchestras. Ebun participated in the Luna Composition Lab at the Kaufman Music Center. She has performed and composed for the Society of Music.

Tomeka Reid (Tony Smith).jpeg

Tomeka Reid
b. 1977

Described as a “New Jazz Power Source” by the New York Times, cellist and composer Tomeka Reid has emerged as one of the most original, versatile, and curious musicians in Chicago’s bustling jazz and improvised music community over the last decade. Her distinctive melodic sensibility, always rooted in a strong sense of groove, has been featured in many distinguished ensembles over the years. Reid released her debut recording as a bandleader in 2015, with the Tomeka Reid Quartet, a vibrant showcase for the cellist’s improvisational acumen as well as her dynamic arrangements and compositional ability.

Tyshawn Sorey.jpeg

Tyshawn Sorey
b. 1980

Newark-born composer and multi-instrumentalist Tyshawn Sorey is celebrated for his incomparable virtuosity, effortless mastery and memorization of highly complex scores, and an extraordinary ability to blend composition and improvisation in his work. He has composed works for the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the International Contemporary Ensemble, PRISM Quartet, JACK Quartet, bass-baritone Davóne Tines, Alarm Will Sound, and the Louisville Orchestra, as well as for countless collaborative performers. Sorey has received support for his creative projects from The Jerome Foundation, The Shifting Foundation, Van Lier Fellowship, and was named a 2017 MacArthur fellow and a 2018 United States Artists Fellow. 

bottom of page