Of Transgendered Violas and Transatlanic Collaborators

Composer Nico Muhly Can't Stick to Classical, So He Heads to...Iceland?

On "The Only Tune," a recent composition realized with both Sigurðsson and banjo player Sam Amidon (to be released on Muhly's next album), he recasts the text of "The Two Sisters," an old Appalachian murder ballad wherein a drowned girl's body gets carved into a violin.

Nico Muhly prefers the crisp picture quality of satellite--plus on Sundays, he can watch every game, everywhere
Samantha West
Nico Muhly prefers the crisp picture quality of satellite--plus on Sundays, he can watch every game, everywhere

"I came across it because my parents sang it when I was growing up," Muhly says. "But there is so much about it that's great. Primarily, the notion of the body-as-instrument—and then also the terror of that line, 'The miller fished her out with his long, long hook.' It's quite beautiful and scary." The end result sounds like a mash-up between Will Oldham and Steve Reich, folky yet orchestral, down-home and dizzying. For both Muhly and Sigurðsson, the thrill comes in capturing such extremes in a single frame.

NICO MUHLY and VALGEIR SIGURðSSON perform on SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 29, at the SOUTHERN THEATER; 612.340.1125

Nico Muhly

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