Bela Fleck and Edgar Meyer to Present Special Duo Performance in Center for the Arts

By David Wedekindt

Release Date: January 8, 2004

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The Center for the Arts will present Béla Fleck and Edgar Meyer at 8 p.m. on Feb. 11 in the Mainstage theater located in the Center for the Arts on the UB North (Amherst) Campus.

Béla Fleck has virtually reinvented the image and the sound of the banjo in a remarkable performing and recording career that has taken him all over the musical map. With his band the Flecktones, he has won no less than five Grammy awards.

On his classical CD, Perpetual Motion, the banjo became something else again -- a classical virtuoso's instrument -- as Fleck played imaginative new arrangements of favorite works by Bach, Beethoven, Chopin, Debussy, Paganini and Tchaikovsky. Fleck developed the recording and the arrangements with the collaboration of his longtime friend and colleague, the bass virtuoso and composer Edgar Meyer, who also appeared on the recording with a gallery of classical stars.

Fleck is a New York City native who picked up the banjo at age 15 after being awed by the bluegrass playing of Flatt and Scruggs. He began experimenting with playing bebop on the banjo in high school. In 1982, he joined the progressive bluegrass band New Grass Revival, where he made a name for himself in the country-bluegrass world.

In 1989, he formed the Flecktones. The group made its self-titled debut recording in 1990 by playing a "blu-bop" mix of jazz and bluegrass and soon became a commercially successful, critically acclaimed and award-winning band. Fleck is the only musician to be nominated for Grammys in jazz, bluegrass, pop, country, spoken word, Christian, composition and world music categories.

This concert will mark Fleck's sixth consecutive appearance at the Center for the Arts, and his first without the Flecktones. "When I'm not working with the Flecktones, I like doing something acoustic, something very different from the band," he said. "I like the variety. It makes me a better musician. It makes me feel more complete."

Prominently established as a unique and masterful instrumentalist, Grammy Award winner Edgar Meyer delights his audiences both as double bassist virtuoso and composer. Hailed by The New Yorker as, "... the most remarkable virtuoso in the relatively unchronicled history of his instrument," Meyer's unparalleled technique and musicianship in combination with his gift for composition have brought him to the fore, where he is appreciated by a vast, varied audience.

Meyer's musical interests have also led him to be a widely sought after guest bass player for an assortment of recording artists, such as Garth Brooks, Bruce Cockburn, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Hank Williams, Jr., Emmylou Harris, James Taylor, Lyle Lovett, T-Bone Burnett, Reba McIntyre, the Indigo Girls, Travis Tritt and The Chieftains.

Meyer began studying bass at the age of five under the instruction of his father, and continued further to study with Stuart Sankey. He is the winner of numerous competitions. In 1994 he became the only bassist to receive the Avery Fisher Career Grant and in 2000 became the only bassist to receive the Avery Fisher Prize.

Meyer joined the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center 10 years ago and continues to perform regularly with this ensemble. Currently, he is also visiting professor of double bass at the Royal Academy of Music.

Tickets for Béla Fleck & Edgar Meyer are $28 for the general public, and $25 for UB students. Tickets are available from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the Center for the Arts Box Office and all Ticketmaster locations, including Kaufmann's. To charge tickets, call 852-5000; in Canada, call 1-416-870-8000. For group sales, call 645-6771. For more information, call 645-ARTS. The Center for the Arts is a TicketFast location.