• Interview

Interview: Founder of MusicNOW Bryce Dessner

We sat down with Bryce Dessner, founder of MusicNOW and of the band, The National prior to the festival next weekend! Check out a full preview of this year's event HERE!

Enter to win a pair of passes to MusicNOW HERE! 

With MusicNow in its 11th year, the festival seems to be constantly evolving.  Has the evolution of the festival been consciously directed or did it happen more naturally?
I have always had some deliberate goals in mind with the festival, specifically in terms of some of the more ambitious programming we do, but I have also responded organically to events each year and have allowed the festival to grow and change naturally based on where it felt like going. The biggest shift was three years ago when we signed on for an extended partnership with the CSO.

What do you see as the next evolution for MusicNow?
I think the CSO is now the heart of the festival and our adventurous programing for the orchestra has really made the institution a major force in the music world internationally, perhaps second only to the LA Phil in the US in terms of their commitment to new music.

Since 2014 MusicNow has partnered with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, what can we expect from this partnership in the future?
We are deeply committed to championing new work for the orchestra, as well as exciting collaborations.  This will include new commissions every year as well as a dedication to championing the work of young composers.

What are you most excited about for this year’s festival?
Friday nights concert features 3 of my favorite artists, Kronos Quartet performing music by 2015 Pulitzer prize winner Julia Wolfe, astounding violinist Jennifer Koh, and the the brilliant mandolin player Chris Thile.

The intimacy of Memorial hall, has become kind of synonymous with MusicNow.  With it currently under renovations night 3 of the festival is at the Cincinnati Masonic Center Auditorium. Are there plans to return a portion of the festival’s events to Memorial Hall upon completion? 
Memorial Hall is one of my favorite theaters in the world so we will definitely return their post renovation.  That said there are so many great venues in Cincinnati now so we will definitely plan to keep an eye open for how we might partner with other institutions.

Lastly, what does MusicNow mean to you personally?
Music Now has very much come to represent everything I love abut making music.  Its an event where I can be free to explore the various sides of the music world that interest me and share that with our audience in an intimate environment.  

MusicNOW Festival
March 18-20
8:00 PM, Friday and Saturday at Music Hall, 1241 Elm Street, Over-the-Rhine
Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Kronos Quartet, Jennifer KohChris Thile
Tickets $10-101 per night, two-day passes $50-75 

7:00 PM Sunday at Cincinnati Masonic Center Auditorium, 317 E 5th Street, Downtown
Punch BrothersSam AmidonLuluc
Tickets $30 general admission


MusicNOW Marries Classical, Bluegrass, and the Avant-Garde 

Unlike most festivals, MusicNOW has institutional memory. Each spring, founder Bryce Dessner (best known for his work in The National) continues an ongoing story, building on prior performances rather than presenting one disjointed slate of acts after another. In addition to carefully curated...