Béla Fleck is perhaps the most celebrated banjo performer of his generation, winning a total of 14 Grammys in a genre-defying career that has taken him from New Grass Revival through the Flecktones, and now into classical music. He will premiere his Concerto for Banjo with the Nashville Symphony at the Schermerhorn Symphony Center from September 22-24.
Commissioned by the Nashville Symphony, the Concerto for Banjo is one of the first ever written for the instrument, and will serve as the centerpiece of the orchestra’s opening concerts in the 2011/12 SunTrust Classical Series. Fleck will perform the piece on his vintage 1937 mahogany Gibson Mastertone, and he calls the concerto “a liberating experience for my efforts as a composer and hopefully for the banjo as well.”
Fleck made his first foray into classical music with his 2001 solo album Perpetual Motion. Released on Sony Classical, the recording went on to win a pair of Grammys, including Best Classical Crossover Album. With 30 nominations to his credit, Fleck has been nominated in more categories than any other performer in Grammy history.
Fleck dedicates his new Concerto to pioneering banjoist Earl Scruggs, who first inspired him to take up the instrument. The composer says that the piece reflects the dual influences of classical music and bluegrass.“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.”
A press release described the upcoming performance,”The Concerto for Banjo is perfectly matched at the Nashville Symphony concerts with Aaron Copland’s famous Appalachian Spring, which celebrates the American spirit with music of breathtaking beauty and directness. Concluding the performance is Tchaikovsky’s larger-than-life Fourth Symphony, the Russian composer’s favorite piece, which sweeps the audience with an emotional palette that ranges from melancholy to exuberance.”
The Thursday, September 22, performance will be webcast live via the Nashville Symphony’s website.
For more information about the concert or to purchase tickets, please call 615.687.6400 or visit NashvilleSymphony.org.