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Over the past 25 years, TREY ANASTASIO has established himself as a prolific composer, a masterful guitarist (named by Rolling Stone as one of the 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time), and compelling performer. Anastasio, a founding member of the Grammy-nominated, genre-melding rock band Phish, has long incorporated classical elements in the band’s compositions as well as throughout his solo work. A curious and constant composer, Anastasio draws inspiration from experimental jazz, classical, pop, reggae, metal, and barbershop music. Early songs such as “Divided Sky” and “Fluffhead,” through the more recent Time Turns Elastic were composed to exemplify development and harmonic elegance not commonly found in modern popular music.
Anastasio began his foray into the classical world in 2000, in collaboration with Troy Peters, director of the Vermont Youth Orchestra, on an orchestral version of Phish’s “Guyute.” The piece, which was performed at Carnegie Hall, the Music Hall in Troy, NY, and the Flynn Theatre in Burlington, VT, had a lasting effect on Anastasio. In 2004 Anastasio conducted the Nashville Chamber Orchestra at the Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival, providing the crowd of 80,000 rock fans with a riveting introduction to “new classical” music. It is there he forged a partnership he maintains today with composer and orchestrator Don Hart, who arranged material from Anastasio’s solo instrumental album Seis de Mayo for that landmark performance.
In 2009 Anastasio performed with the New York Philharmonic and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. The New York Times hailed Anastasio’s Carnegie Hall performance with the New York Philharmonic as “that rarest of rarities, a classical-rock hybrid that might please partisans from both constituencies. Set amid a generous group of popular Phish songs – gentle, string-cushioned ballads like ‘Brian and Robert’ and ‘Let Me Lie,’ as well as the audacious, intricate instrumentals ‘Guyute Orchestral’ and ‘You Enjoy Myself’ – the new piece [Time Turns Elastic] could hardly have gone wrong.” Anastasio’s independent label, Rubber Jungle Records, released the studio recording of Time Turns Elastic, a groundbreaking work for vocals, guitar, and orchestra, with the Northwest Sinfonia.
While he continues an active schedule of touring with both Phish and his long-time solo project Trey Anastasio Band, Anastasio is at work on a new musical with composer/lyricist Amanda Green and Pulitzer Prize-winner Doug Wright, titled Hands on a Hard Body. The musical, based on S.R. Bindler’s 1997 documentary of the same name about a pickup-truck competition in Longview, TX, will debut this April at La Jolla Playhouse’s Mandell Weiss Theatre.