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What it's like to perform at NPR's Tiny Desk

Celebrated contemporary pianist Sarah Cahill, who also happens to be host of KALW’s Revolutions Per Minute, recently performed on NPR’s iconic Tiny Desk Concert. As part of her project The Future is Female, which aims to course-correct the erasure of women composers from Baroque to present day, Sarah played four pieces that spanned the globe. Read what she had to say about the experience and watch the entire set above.

Sarah Cahill: It was a tremendous honor for me to play a Tiny Desk concert, in the studio where so many fantastic musicians of all genres have performed. I loved seeing that iconic studio up close, and actually touching all the various funny objects on the shelves in the background of all the videos. It meant a lot to me to highlight music by composers who have been overlooked because of their gender and race, and to introduce them to the Tiny Desk audience, which is so huge (50,000 views so far) and who responded so positively to the music.

My daughter Miranda, who is 25, really loves Tiny Desk concerts and watches all of them, so she came with me to see the studio and NPR headquarters. I love the fact that while my older classical music friends don't know Tiny Desk at all, to Miranda's generation, it's a really big deal and she and her friends were really excited for me.

The Tiny Desk crew was incredibly warm and welcoming. I was so excited to meet Tom Huizinga and Josh Rogosin. I told Josh how impressive it is that he records so many diverse genres of music in that small space and makes everything sound fantastic. Tom gave us a tour of the beautiful studios and we talked a lot about our favorite composers.

When you record a Tiny Desk concert you only have twenty minutes total, so you have to make every moment count. I timed my pieces and my spoken comments and managed to fit it all in! I'm very, very fortunate to work with Jensen Artists on management and PR; they're the ones who got me to the Tiny Desk, so I'm very grateful to them as well!