Denison's Vail Series Presents Musicians In Concert of Classical Crossover Music
Posted: August 29, 2003
A masterful instrumentalist who won a 2002 Mac Arthur Award, Meyer has an extensive performance history as a solo classical bassist but is also highly regarded for his fruitful collaborations. Fleck, a five-time Grammy winner, has virtually reinvented the image and the sound of the banjo. Their album,Perpetual Motion,won two Grammy Awards for Best Classical Crossover Album and for Best Instrumental Arrangement. The recording features the duo playing imaginative new arrangements of favorite short works by Bach, Beethoven, Chopin, Debussy, Paganini, Scarlatti and Tchaikovsky along with violinist Joshua Bell, guitarist John Williams and percussionist Evelyn Glennie. The album was released by Sony in October of 2001.
Fleck, who was named after BÃ©la (BartÃ³k), Anton (DvorÃ¡k), and LÃ©os (JanÃ¡cek), would seem destined to play classical music but he first became a powerfully creative force in bluegrass, jazz, pop, rock and world beat music. He won a fifth Grammy with his band, the Flecktones, for Best Contemporary Jazz Album forOutbound.Fleck was familiar with classical music having grown up in a household where his stepfather was a cellist playing in string quartets. When he got to know Meyer, he was reawakened to classical music. "I began to think that some of this music would work on the banjo."
Meyer collaborated with Fleck in choosing both the repertoire and the combination of instruments for each arrangement. Fleck, though, arrived at the complex fingerings the music demanded only after long, painstaking periods of experimentation. "I'd work on the fingerings over and over, thinking 'There's got to be a better way than this,' then constantly change them until they were just right."
Meyer is a frequent soloist with orchestras. He has recorded the Bottesini's "Gran Duo" with Joshua Bell, and his own "Double Concerto for Bass and Cello" with Yo Yo Ma plus other works with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra recently. He also has recorded an album of Bach's Unaccompanied Suites for Cello. Meyer organized a quartet made up of violinist Bell, himself and legendary bluegrass musicians Sam Bush and Mike Marshall playing a unique fusion of classical and bluegrass musical styles. After playing at the Aspen Music Festival in June of 1998, they made their New York debut at the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center following an extensive North American tour. The group's album,Short Trip Home,was released in 1999 and nominated for a Grammy award in the category of Best Classical Crossover.
In another collaboration, a trio of Meyer, Fleck and Marshall opened the 1997-98 season of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center in conjunction with the release of their Sony disc,Uncommon Ritual.Meyer has also recorded theAppalachia WaltzandAppalachian Journeyalbums with Ma and Mark O'Connor (both artists have appeared on previous Vail Series programs). TheAppalachian Journeyalbum won the Grammy in 1999 for Best Classical Crossover album.
Meyer began studying bass at the age of five under the instruction of his father. Winner of numerous competitions, he earned the Avery Fisher Career Grant in 1994 and in 2000 became the only bassist to receive the Avery Fisher Prize. He recently made his Boston Symphony debut, with Seiji Ozawa conducting, playing his "Double Concerto" with Ma. He joined the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center in 1994 and continues to perform regularly with them. He also serves as visiting professor of double bass at the Royal Academy of Music.
Fleck is a New York City native who picked up the banjo at age 15 after being awed by the bluegrass playing of Flatt & Scruggs. He began experimenting with playing bebop on the banjo in high school and in 1982 joined the progressive bluegrass band New Grass Revival. The only musician to be nominated for Grammys in jazz, bluegrass, pop, country, spoken word, Christian, composition and world music categories, Fleck won his Grammy for Outbound on the same evening he shared one for Best Country Instrumental Performance with Alison Brown for "Leaving Cottondale" on theFair Weatheralbum.
Denison University, founded in 1831, is an independent, residential liberal arts institution located in Granville, Ohio. A highly selective college enrolling 2,100 full-time undergraduate students from all 50 states and dozens of foreign countries, Denison is a place where innovative faculty and motivated students collaborate in rigorous scholarship, civic engagement and the cultivation of independent thinking.
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