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A wide range on Bela Fleck's Juno Concerto / PopMatters

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Banjo virtuoso Béla Fleck has now tried his hand at nearly every genre imaginable, stretching the possibilities for an instrument once known almost solely as belonging to bluegrass and trad jazz into new and fascinating territory. Be it with his groundbreaking fusion work with the Flecktones, his first foray into straight classical music with 2001's Perpetual Motion or his collaborative work in nearly every style of contemporary popular music, Fleck has virtually come to define the modern notion of a banjo player, albeit one who happens to be a voracious musical polyglot.

Juno Concerto, his second foray into the world of solo composing for classical concertos featuring banjo and orchestra following 2011's The Imposter, finds Fleck having become all the more comfortable with the form and role of classical composer. Using the birth of his son Juno with wife and fellow musician Abigail Washburn as the basis for his creative inspiration, Fleck's work offers a wide range of emotional components. There are moments of whimsy and playfulness scattered throughout the more contemplative, slower passages that form the bulk of the work. Fleck noted this latter in particular, stating, "I wanted to improve my writing for the orchestra, to create more and better slow music," adding, "and for the solo parts to focus on flow and things that come naturally to the banjo, rather than attempting to do the nearly impossible, constantly."