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MusicNOW Festival

Since its inception in 2006, MusicNOW, founded by Bryce and Aaron Dessner of The National, has played host to such luminaries as Philip Glass, Sufjan Stevens, Grizzly Bear, Joanna Newsom, Robin Pecknold and Justin Vernon. One of its founding principles has been a spirit of collaboration and cross-pollination that each year leaves it’s intimate audiences in Cincinnati, Ohio with stories of once-in-a-lifetime supergroups.

In 2011 alone, Justin Vernon teamed up with Megafaun, Fight the Big Bull, Matthew E.White and Sharon Van Etten to form Sounds of the South, a collective covering examples of the tradition music of the American South captured in the early 20th century by Alan Lomax. In the same weekend, Laurel Sprengelmeyer assembled a special version of her band Little Scream with Aaron and Bryce Dessner on guitar, Richard Reed Parry or Arcade Fire on drums and Shara Worden of My Brightest Diamond and Sharon Van Etten on backup vocals. Owen Pallett closed out the whole festival with the National after an exhausting three-day itinerary.

In 2012, Philip Glass teamed up with the Grammy-award winning classical ensemble Eighth Blackbird to perform songs from his catalogue. Bryce Dessner, Sufjan Stevens and Nico Muhly debuted a brand new song cycle based on the planets of our solar system, and James McVinnie, celebrated organist at Westminster Abbey, and Nadia Sirota performed duets at the Christ Church Cathedral.

As MusicNOW gets ready to celebrates its 7th year on April 12th and 13th this coming, we decided to dig into the archives to show you some unreleased material from the last 2 years at this great festival.

Here famed minimalist composer Philip Glass performs his Music In Similar Motion with the expert players of Eighth Blackbird.

Here, Sharon Van Etten waits in her green room at Memorial Hall before opening for The National that evening. She shares a song written by Little Scream, unreleased on her beautiful 2011 recording, The Golden Record. Learned in haste that morning, Sharon delivers the cover with her usual devastating spareness.

In this film, Kate Stables warms up with her band This Is The Kit, here accompanied by Aaron Dessner and Richard Reed Parry who takes a turn at the borrowed celeste that has been dragged into the building for Nico Muhly’s later performance of the Planetarium cycle.

Here, James McVinnie, organist of Westminster Abbey, runs through a rehearsal of his duet with famed NYC violist Nadia Sirota.

In this last video, Owen Pallett (née Final Fantasy) performs a cover of The Luyas’ Canary, a song he has learned that day written by a dear friend, Jessie Stein.

Tickets and full lineup of this year’s MusicNow festival can be found at: