Chris Thile is a virtuoso mandolinist, composer and vocalist whose broad musical outlook transcends the limitations of conventional genres. The 2012 MacArthur Foundation "genius grant" 2012 recipient is known primarily for his bluegrass background as a member of the bands Punch Brothers and Nickel Creek, but his music encompasses jazz, classical, rock, and every style in between. His 2011 collaboration with Yo-Yo Ma, Edgar Meyer and Stuart Ducan for The Goat Rodeo Sessions earned him Grammy for Best Folk Album.
Earlier this year, Thile released an album of solo mandolin performances called Sonatas and Partitas, Vol. 1, drawing from transcribed solo violin works written by Johann Sebastian Bach in the early 1700s. He played these Bach works as well as his own compositions and contemporary music to a sold out audience at the Newman Center's Gates Concert Hall when his tour came through Denver in October.
CPR's Michael Hughes spoke with Thile about his love of Bach and his approach to classical performance.
For a taste of the mandolinist's interpretation of Bach, listen to the exclusive track below, recorded in 2009 in the CPR Performance Studio.