“Mr. Fleck can lay claim to the title of the most popular living banjoist, having done much to push the instrument beyond the bluegrass terra firma into jazz, classical and beyond.”
The New York Times
“Virtuoso Béla Fleck has broken more boundaries than any other banjoist.”
All Music Guide
“Fleck’s concerto for banjo and symphony orchestra off The Impostor edges out the competition for its determined attitude and ambitious undertaking in areas the banjo has never gone before. The world’s most popular banjoist essentially reinvents the rulebook in music written for banjo in an exceptionally grandeur vision. Writing for his first concerto, Fleck is crisp in merging trademark twangs with seeping, mysterious strings. The frontier/americana lineage of the banjo is highlighted in this surprisingly risky romp, protruding an adventurous sprit. Together with the Nashville Symphony Orchestra, Béla Fleck’s performance is fluid with just the proper amount of danger. But what really drives the heart of Fleck’s concerto for banjo is its pure honesty and genuine penchant for melody. While many concerto recordings in 2013 will ride on the strength of their performance quality none posses as much memorability and character as Fleck’s concerto for banjo.”
“While not a narrative work as such, Juno could nonetheless be regarded as a sequel if only because it is so successful in giving elevated credence to the banjo as a legitimate, indeed beautiful denizen of the Classical world…Along with revealing Fleck’s heightened appreciation of the emotive colors that a full orchestra can provide, Juno also shows a studied commitment to the traditional concerto format of three movements in fast-slow-fast order. Within that structure, Fleck’s thematic developments feel less frenetic than in The Impostor, though no less an adventurous platform for his astonishing virtuosity as a soloist. This time the music, for all of its harmonic eclecticism and contrapuntal complexity, exudes newfound elegance and confidence.”
“From the outset, Fleck treats the banjo more like a musical instrument than simply a bluegrass instrument. He puts it through its paces and demonstrates its potential far beyond its ‘Beverley Hillbillies’ persona. There are certainly a few captivating moments and flashes of virtuosic playing, but the focus seems to be on the intrinsic quality of the music itself (sounding at times like Bartok, Prokofiev, or Gershwin) rather than on the novelty of a bluegrass instrument paired with an orchestra.”
Chattanooga Times Free Press
“While not completely classical, jazz or folk, Fleck and Brooklyn Rider proved their points that seeming incongruity can still produce inspiration.”
Just in case you aren’t familiar with Béla Fleck, there are many who say he’s the premiere banjo player in the world. Others claim that Fleck has virtually reinvented the image and the sound of the banjo through a remarkable performing and recording career that has taken him all over the musical map and on a range of solo projects and collaborations. If you are familiar with Fleck, you know that he just loves to play the banjo, and put it into unique settings.
A sixteen-time Grammy Award-winner, Fleck has the virtuosic, jazz-to-classical ingenuity of an iconic instrumentalist and composer with bluegrass roots. His collaborations range from his ground-breaking standard-setting ensemble Béla Fleck and the Flecktones to a staggeringly broad array of musical experiments. His most recent release and 2022 Grammy Award-winning album, My Bluegrass Heart, was Fleck’s return to bluegrass and spotlighted a multi-generational gamut of the best of bluegrass players.
From writing concertos for full symphony orchestra, exploring the banjo’s African roots, and collaborating with Indian musical royalty Zakir Hussain and Rakesh Churasia with Edgar Meyer, to performing as a folk duo with wife Abigail Washburn, and jazz duos with Chick Corea, many tout that Béla Fleck is the world’s premier banjo player. As Jon Pareles wrote for The New York Times, “That’s a lot of territory for five strings.”
The Solo Concert will bring together all of Fleck’s diverse influences to create a flowing musical statement. Striving to illuminate the possibilities of the five string banjo, Fleck will use its unique properties to create new music for solo banjo, while reprising music from his 40+ years of performing.