Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra: making great music personal

Chris Thile


Widely regarded as one of the most interesting and inventive musicians of his generation, Chris Thile has changed the mandolin forever, elevating it from its origins as a relatively simple folk and bluegrass instrument to the sophistication and brilliance of the finest jazz improvisation and classical performance.

Thile’s newest venture, Punch Brothers, is already playing to sold-out crowds around the world. Comprised of five young and fiercely talented musicians—Chris Thile (mandolin), Gabe Witcher (fiddle), Chris Eldridge (guitar), Noam Pikelny (banjo) and Paul Kowert (bass)—the band has captured the attention of music lovers across genres. In 2007, they released their Nonesuch Records debut album Punch featuring Thile’s ambitious four-movement chamber suite, The Blind Leaving the Blind, which was premiered at Carnegie Hall’s Zankel Hall as part of John Adams’ 2007 In Your Ear Festival. The album received critical acclaim around the world. The group’s first album, How to Grow a Woman from the Ground, was also widely praised and received a Grammy® nomination for Best Country Instrumental Performance for the song “The Eleventh Reel.”

For more than 15 years, Thile played in the wildly popular band Nickel Creek, with whom he released three albums for a combined two million records sold, was awarded a Grammy® in 2002 and traveled the world on sold-out concert tours. As a soloist he has released five albums, on which he conquered a dizzying range of instruments, songwriting challenges and musical styles.

Thile has performed and recorded extensively as a duo with Edgar Meyer (with whom he released an album and toured the world in 2008) and with fellow eminent mandolinist Mike Marshall. In 2007, Meyer and pianist Emanuel Ax performed a piece that they commissioned from Thile for a tour including Zankel Hall, the Kennedy Center and Nashville’s Schermerhorn Symphony Center. Thile has also collaborated with a pantheon of bluegrass innovators including Béla Fleck, Dolly Parton, the Dixie Chicks, Jerry Douglas and Sam Bush.

Over the course of his career, Thile has received every major mandolin-related award, including the National Mandolin Championship at age 12 and the International Bluegrass Music Association’s Mandolinist of the Year. He won a Grammy® in 2002 with Nickel Creek for their album This Side in the Best Contemporary Folk Album Category, and most recently he won the 2007 BBC Radio 2 Folk Award for Musician of the Year.

Chris Thile

photo Cassandra Jenkins

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