Stories » Bela Fleck, performing in Easton, combines banjo with classical music / Allentown Morning Call

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Bela Fleck, performing in Easton, combines banjo with classical music / Allentown Morning Call

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You might think that someone born with the name Bela Anton Leos Fleck would be destined to perform classical music, and you'd be right. Multi Grammy-winning banjo player Bela Fleck, born in New York City in 1956, was named after famed classical composers Bela Bartok, Anton Dvorak and Leos Janacek.

In 2001, already a powerfully creative force in bluegrass, jazz, pop and world beat, Fleck finally made the classical connection with this unlikely instrument in his acclaimed Sony Classical recording "Perpetual Motion." That album went on to win a pair of Grammys, including Best Classical Crossover Album. Fleck continued a deeper commitment to classical crossover, composing a double concerto for banjo and bass premiered by the Nashville Symphony in 2003, a triple concerto for banjo, bass and tabla, and a concerto for banjo and orchestra which premiered in 2013, also by the Nashville Symphony.

These days Fleck, widely considered the world's pre-eminent banjoist, performs in various touring situations. He's played duos with pianist Chick Corea and trios with bassist Edgar Meyer and percussionist Zakir Hussain. He's performed concerts with the Brooklyn Rider String Quartet and his banjo concerto with various symphony orchestras. We'll hear that concerto - and music by Rossini, of all things - when Fleck performs at the Williams Center in Easton Jan. 29 with the Knights Orchestra.

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