Banjo player Bela Fleck is no stranger to genre bending performances. His band Newgrass Revival took Bluegrass music to a whole new demographic of fans. His work with The Flecktones seamlessly blended Bluegrass, Folk, Jazz, and Jam into a package that has delighted festival audiences for years and won multiple Grammy awards. His collaboration with Toumani Diabate took African music in new directions. Now Fleck is back and set to prove that the banjo is an instrument worthy of the Classical genre as he joins the Nashville Symphony on September 22-24 for the world premiere of his Concerto for Banjo and Orchestra.
Performing on a signature 1937 Gibson Mastertone banjo, Fleck will join the Nashville Symphony at the Schermerhorn Symphony Center to perform his new piece, which will be the centerpiece of the orchestra’s opening concert for the Suntrust Classical Series.
Fleck calls his new piece “a liberating experience for my efforts as a composer and hopefully for the banjo as well.” Fleck is dedicating his Concerto to banjo pioneer Earl Scruggs, who inspired Fleck to take up the instrument. He says Bluegrass and Classical are not such an odd match. “You can hear an evolution in my own writing of the piece as it goes on,” he observes, noting that he wanted to “explore the new possibilities of the banjo as a member or the orchestra, while respecting its roots in bluegrass and jazz.”
Bela Fleck and the Nashville Symphony’s performance of Concerto for Banjo and Orchestra, which will also include a performance of Aaron Copland’s Appalachian Spring and Tchaikovsky’s Fourth Symphony, will be held September 22-24. Tickets can be purchased at Nashville Symphony’s website.