Chris Thile plays everything from Bach to bluegrass, has been touring since he was a pre-teen, and in 2012 won a MacArthur “genius” grant—all for playing the mandolin. Thile is Carnegie Hall’s 2018–19 Richard and Barbara Debs Composer’s Chair, and this March Carnegie Hall hosted an episode of his National Public Radio Live from Here show featuring American folk music and music from the British Isles, as part of Carnegie’s “Migrations: The Making of America” festival. He’s a musical omnivore with a deep love of classical music who has hosted chamber ensembles like The Knights and yMusic on the radio show, and has toured and recorded Bach with cellist Yo-Yo Ma and bassist Edgar Meyer. He brought the mandolin to the orchestra world with a 2009 concerto he wrote and performed with eight U.S. orchestras.

Here, Thile talks about his many musical obsessions, composing and performing, and learning about music from a board game.

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