Béla Fleck Performs with Cleveland Orchestra, 12/6-8

Béla Fleck Performs with Cleveland Orchestra, 12/6-8

Béla Fleck performs his Banjo Concerto in his Cleveland Orchestra debut at Severance Hall on December 6, 7, and 8. Giancarlo Guerrero leads all-American program, including Gershwin's An American in Paris. The December 7 concert continues KeyBank Fridays@7 series, and the concerts continue Thursday, December 6, at 8 p.m. and Saturday, December 8, at 8 p.m.

Giancarlo Guerrero, music director of the Nashville Symphony and principal guest conductor of Cleveland Orchestra Miami, conducts The Cleveland Orchestra in concerts at Severance Hall featuring Béla Fleck as soloist in the first Cleveland performances of his Concerto for Banjo. The program also includes John Adams's Short Ride in a Fast Machine and Aaron Copland's Suite from Billy the Kid, concluding with George Gershwin's An American in Paris.

Béla Fleck, considered by many to be the premier banjo player in the world, wrote his Concerto for Banjo in 2010-11 on a commission from the Nashville Symphony. The world premiere of the Concerto was given by that orchestra, conducted by its music director, Giancarlo Guerrero, on September 22, 2011, with the composer as soloist. The Concerto is dedicated to Earl Scruggs (1924-2012), whose innovative three-finger picking style is now the standard for mastering the banjo, and whose banjo playing for the Beverly Hillbillies television show was an early inspiration to Béla Fleck.

Fleck's Banjo Concerto was described in the Birmingham News (following a January 2012 performance by the Alabama Symphony, the second orchestra to perform the work) as probing "the instrument's depth and diversity with complex textures, frequent meter changes, and demanding technique. Hints of blues and bluegrass are never far away, a palpable tie-in with genres that elevated Fleck to his exalted position in the banjo world."

Béla Fleck has won multiple Grammy Awards and is perhaps best known for his work with the groups New Grass Revival and Béla Fleck and the Flecktones. The Concerto for Banjo is Fleck's first large-scale classical composition. He has collaborated with other musicians on two previous classical compositions: the Concerto for Banjo and Bass, written with bassist Edgar Meyer (premiered with the Nashville Symphony in 2003) and a triple concerto titled The Melody of Rhythm, written with Meyer and tabla player Zakir Hussain (premiered at the concert that inauguraTed Nashville's Schermerhorn Symphony Center in 2006).

Beginning one hour prior to the Thursday and Saturday concerts, a Concert Preview titled "Portraits of America" will be given in Reinberger Chamber Hall by Susan McClary, professor of music at Case Western Reserve University. The series is funded by a generous endowment gift from Dorothy Humel Hovorka.

Friday, December 7, at 7 p.m.: KeyBank Fridays@7 concert + after-party
The Cleveland Orchestra's second KeyBank Fridays@7 concert of the 2012-13 Severance Hall season features Béla Fleck's Concerto for Banjo, with Mr. Fleck as soloist. The program opens with John Adams's Short Ride in a Fast Machine, followed by George Gershwin's An American in Paris, and concludes with the Banjo Concerto.

Following the Orchestra's concert, a trio featuring New Orleans-based musicians Johnny Vidacovich (drums), Mark Mullins (trombone), and Roland Guerin (bass) performs in the Bogomolny-Kozerefski Grand Foyer for the Fridays@7 after-party. The three, the most sought-after sidemen in the New Orleans music scene, are coming together to perform at this Fridays@7 presentation. They will share with the audience their special blend of music that has emerged from the wide range of world music gumbo that they regularly are a part of in one of the richest musical cities in the world. (To begin the evening, the six-piece ensemble Harmonia performs traditional folk music of Eastern Europe in Reinberger Chamber Hall beginning at 6 p.m.)

Now in their fourth season, KeyBank Fridays@7 concerts are less formal, onstage and off. Following each 7 p.m. Cleveland Orchestra concert, world music expert Jamey Haddad invites a selection of artists to collaborate in a unique musical celebration. The remaining Fridays@7 concerts this season are on January 18 (featuring Joshua Bell as soloist in the Beethoven Violin Concerto), and May 24 (featuring Tchaikovsky's Fifth Symphony).

DECEMBER 6 TICKET PRICES: Orchestra: $79, $59; Dress Circle: $99, $69; Balcony: $79, $69, $45.

DECEMBER 7 TICKET PRICES: Orchestra: $59, $31; Dress Circle: $79, $49; Balcony: $59, $49, $31.

DECEMBER 8 TICKET PRICES: Orchestra: $89, $59; Dress Circle: $119, $69; Balcony: $89, $69, $49.

The Severance Hall Ticket Office is located in the Smith Lobby. The entrance and 15-minute Ticket Service parking are along East Boulevard. The Ticket Office is open 9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m., Monday-Friday and on Saturdays from 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. It is closed Sundays and holidays, except for those days with performances, when the Ticket Office opens 3 hours before concert start time.

Group Sales (groups of 10 or more): Call the Cleveland Orchestra Group Sales Office at Severance Hall at 216-231-7493 or email groupsales@clevelandorchestra.com for information.

Venue information: Severance Hall, which opened in 1931 as the home of The Cleveland Orchestra, is located at 11001 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio 44106.

For more information or to order tickets, call 216-231-1111 or 800-686-1141, or visit clevelandorchestra.com.