6pm doors • 7pm show
Composer and pianist Cristina Spinei, best known for her ballet scores infused with “lyricism and rhythmic vitality” (Nashville Scene), presents a concert of lively, lilting chamber music exploring mysticism and superstition, from her new album Ex Voto. Spinei is joined by violinist Alicia Enstrom, cellist Emily Brausa, bassist Paul DeFiglia, and percussionist Colleen Phelps.
Composer and performer Cristina Spinei (pronounced spin-AY) has written for numerous orchestras and chamber ensembles, but she is most known for her work with ballet, having been commissioned by Nashville Ballet, the New York Choreographic Institute, the Pacific Northwest Ballet, and many more. Growing up with dreams of becoming a ballerina, Spinei has channeled her love for dance into a devotion to musical movement, resulting in a style infused with “lyricism and rhythmic vitality” (Nashville Scene).
Cristina has made her home in Nashville since 2014, and has since established herself as one of Music City’s most versatile, forward-thinking musicians: Nashville Arts dubbed her “gifted and engaging,” while The East Nashvillian praises her “adventuresome imagination.” Self-described as “minimalish,” Cristina anchors her musical ideas in melody, movement, and loops. Though she frequently adopts repeating patterns when writing, her music evokes more dance than trance, combining her love for opera’s beautifully crafted melodies and Latin music’s movement-heavy rhythms — two genres that work in tandem to inform Cristina’s vision. As she remarked once in an interview:
“I always want there to be some kind of movement through the music in the audience, whether you’re tapping your foot, or nodding your head, or swaying — something.”
Spinei’s discography continues to grow: in addition to Ex Voto, her 2016 debut album, Music for Dance (Toccata Classics), contains work that blossomed from her collaboration with choreographers. Praise comes from the critic Dean Frey, who hailed its “strong lyrical streak with an open, folk-like feeling and a dollop of pop.” In addition to her own records, Spinei’s music appears on the debut album of Trio Celeste, as well as on St. Michel Strings’ album Adagio, a record nominated for a Latin GRAMMY® Award.
Cristina Spinei holds both a Bachelor and Master of Music degree from The Juilliard School, where she studied with Christopher Rouse.
New York City cellist Emily Brausa continues to lead a diverse and dynamic performing career. She has toured worldwide, with engagements ranging from Ra Ra Riot at Pemberton Festival — to a Japan tour with New York Symphonic Ensemble — to a Saturday Night Live taping with Beck — to two overnight performances of Max Richter’s eight-hour Sleep with American Contemporary Music Ensemble outside in Los Angeles’ Grand Park. An enthusiastic advocate of contemporary music, Emily was recently involved with three brand new Off-Broadway productions, and she premiered several chamber works with Tribeca New Music and Chelsea Opera. She plays regularly with American Ballet Theater and is currently performing in West Side Story on Broadway. Emily is on faculty at Third Street Music Settlement. She holds both a Bachelor and Master degree from The Juilliard School.
Paul DeFiglia started playing music in his early teens, learning the bass from his father. After studying at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, he received a Bachelor of Music degree from New York University. He has played with a wide variety of groups and in many genres, including the Avett Brothers and Langhorne Slim. Paul currently lives in Nashville, Tennessee, where he records, produces, and performs.
Alicia Enstrom toured the world for nearly ten years as the solo violinist/electric violinist for two Cirque du Soleil’s shows (Quidam, an arena touring show, and Wintuk, at NYC’s WaMu Theater at Madison Square Garden). She was also the lead violinist/fiddler, vocalist, pianist, and dancer with the International Violin Show, Barrage.
In September 2018, Alicia was the winner of The Ear classical composition competition in New York City. Alicia’s compositions have been used on an ESPN YouTube Series, for The Museum of Modern Art in Ljubljana, Slovenia, and for Artfare, in New York. Her playing has been featured by Primary Music Color and for companies such as NYC Ballet, Coca Cola Japan, Mitsubishi Motors Japan, The Kansas Lottery, and SMBC Bank.
In Nashville, Alicia is privileged to play with the Nashville String Machine, Nashville Music Scoring, and Nashville Recording Orchestras for commercial recordings for artists and projects such as Paul McCartney, Alison Krauss, Willie Nelson, Call of Duty, and Spiderman. In addition, she plays with the Nashville Symphony, performs with Intersection and Chatterbird New Music Ensembles and the Chris Walters Jazz Quintet, and in 2018, served as Artistic Director of Alias Chamber Ensemble.
Alicia, a magna cum laude graduate of Vanderbilt, is originally from Kansas. She currently splits her time between Nashville and New York.
Colleen Phelps hits things, and sometimes she sings, too. The percussionist is currently completing an album of commissioned marimba pieces portraying zoo animals from across the USA. She is a founding member of professional chorus Vocal Arts Nashville, and created the Classically Speaking Podcast for Nashville Public Radio. Colleen took over hosting 91Classical’s weekly performance broadcast Live in Studio C in 2017, and launched the station’s Student Composer Fellowship in the fall of 2019. Her reporting on Nashville’s music can be found at 91Classical.org, and she is @colleenphelps on Twitter.