Wildcard - Nathan Schram

Cimarron - Cimarron! Joropo Music from the Plains of Colombia

Joropo is the rural folk music of Venezuela and Colombia. Typical instrumentation includes guitar, cuatro (similar to a Ukelele), harp, various percussion, and multiple voices. I was fortunate enough to witness some of this infectiously energetic music first hand while in South America last year. Since that time it has baffled me as to why both this band and the style has not spread like other South American musics. This album will make you feel so good. Like a drunk college freshman hearing your first live funk band. You’re gonna wanna dance.

Richard Straus - Metamorphosen (from the album Six to Seven - Hyperion Ensemble)

Richard Strauss is your man for drama. Having mostly written ostentatious orchestral “tone poems” his Metamorphosen (arranged here for 7 strings) is a very intimate look back at the end of his life. The sometimes overwhelming amount of detail and harmonic manipulation gives way to one of the most complex, sensitive, and rewarding emotional dialogues in western classical music.

Dawn of Midi - Dysnomia

I am one of the 5 billion people that heard about Dawn of Midi through RadioLab. I’m still trying to figure out why I love these guys so much. Personally, as a classical musician constantly dealing with my roots in popular music I feel these guys got it right. They have the sensitivity of the great minimalists, the sound creativity of fresh indie bands, and the need to just rock out. There is also a flexibility in how I listen to their music. If I’m feeling brainy I can focus on pinpointing every rhythmic modulation and meter shift. Or I can let go into a luscious musical hypnosis. Both are completely satisfying.

Nate Schram is the violist of the Bryant Park Quartet and Decoda. He is also the founding director of Musicambia, an organization devoted to providing artistic development to incarcerated communities.