Since 2020, the onset of the COVID-19 Pandemic has resulted in isolation, sickness, and economic instability. Racism and police brutality took the lives of Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, and Breonna Taylor, among others, sparking the most widespread racial reckoning of our time. Along with a riotous transfer of political power and leadership, these events have impacted us all on a deep, fundamental level over a relatively brief timeframe. Johnny Gandelsman gathers over two dozen American and U.S.-based composers, commissioning them to write new pieces to reflect on an aspect of their experience during the tumultuous year and a half. In addition to playing violin, Gandelsman bravely leaned into playing guitar and singing for this album. Through trusting conversations with the composers, he strives to communicate and capture their reflections and how they desire to share them through music, amplifying diverse voices across the country.
Johnny Gandelsman is a Grammy-award winning violinist and producer who lives in New York City. Gandelsman is a founding member of string quartet Brooklyn Rider and a former member of the acclaimed group Silkroad Ensemble. He has worked with several award-winning artists including Bela Fleck, Yo-Yo Ma, Joshua Redman, and Suzanne Vega. He has also appeared with Bono, David Byrne, Renee Fleming, Rhiannon Giddens, I’m With Her, Christian McBride, and others. He has used his strong creative platform to feature a diverse array of contemporary composers in a rich, 4-disc anthology.
“I’ve come to think of this project as…a snapshot in time, documenting a tiny slice of the creative thought and output in this country today. I invite you to stop listening to pundits, extend your ears, open up your imagination, and trust the music to guide you into a challenging, complicated and thrilling sound world – This Is America!” -Johnny Gandelsman