This week, Ira Sternberg spoke with Béla Fleck.
Grammy-Award winner Béla Fleck, who will be performing at the Smith Center on Saturday, Feb. 8, is considered by many as the premiere banjo player in the world.
Any world-class musician born with the names Béla (for Bartok), Anton (for Dvorak) and Leos (for Janacek) would seem destined to play classical music. Already a powerfully creative force in bluegrass, jazz, pop, rock and world beat, Béla at last made the classical connection with “Perpetual Motion,” his critically acclaimed 2001 Sony Classical recording that went on to win a pair of Grammys, including Best Classical Crossover Album, in the 44th annual Grammy Awards. Collaborating with Fleck on “Perpetual Motion” was his longtime friend and colleague Edgar Meyer, a bassist and an acclaimed composer. Béla and Edgar co-wrote and performed a double concerto for banjo, bass and the Nashville Symphony, which debuted in November 2003. They also co-wrote a triple concerto for banjo, bass and tabla, with world renown tabla virtuoso Zakir Hussain entitled “The Melody of Rhythm.”
In 2011, Béla wrote his first stand alone banjo concerto, “The Impostor,” on commission with the Nashville Symphony.
The recipient of Multiple Grammy Awards going back to 1998, Béla Flecks’ total Grammy count is 15 Grammys won, and 30 nominations. He has been nominated in more different musical categories than anyone in Grammy history.