MacArthur Fellows Chris Thile & Edgar Meyer to Play Meany Hall this Fall
Mandolinist/composer Chris Thile, of Punch Brothers, and bassist/composer Edgar Meyer will team up again in Fall 2014. These two MacArthur Fellows will cross traditional boundaries in a diverse program of largely original music. The duo has collaborated on several critically acclaimed projects, including the Grammy-winning Goat Rodeo Sessions, a 2008 recording of original compositions (Nonesuch Records) and, most recently, Chris Thile's 2013 solo recording, Bach: Sonatas and Partitas, Vol. 1, produced by Meyer. Their new album, Bass & Mandolin, will be released by Nonesuch on September 9, just prior to the launch of the duo's North American tour.
In a review of his quintet Punch Brothers' latest Nonesuch recording, Who's Feeling Young Now?, London's Independent called Chris Thile "the most remarkable mandolinist in the world." The McArthur Foundation echoed that assessment when it named Thile one of its 23 MacArthur Fellows for 2012-a recipient of its prestigious "Genius Grant." In honoring Thile, the MacArthur Foundation noted that his "lyrical fusion of traditional bluegrass with elements from a range of other musical traditions is giving rise to a new genre of contemporary music."
Prior to recording Punch Brothers acclaimed new disc, Thile completed an album of tradition-upending interpretations of bluegrass classics with guitarist Michael Daves, Sleep With One Eye Open, which garnered a 2011 Grammy nomination for Best Bluegrass Album. He also recorded The Goat Rodeo Sessions with cellist Yo-Yo Ma, violinist Stuart Duncan, and Thile's mentor and frequent collaborator Edgar Meyer, which won the 2012 Grammy for Best Folk Album.
After a lengthy 2012 Punch Brothers tour, Thile, always up for another challenge, immediately embarked on a series of duo dates with fellow virtuoso, the jazz pianist Brad Mehldau. Said the Washington Post, "Their complex work translated to plain-faced beauty: simple, direct and exquisite." In between his Punch Brothers shows, Thile also found time to present his mandolin concerto, Ad astra per alas porci with several chamber orchestras around the United States, including a date at Carnegie Hall's Stern Auditorium.
A child prodigy, Thile first rose to fame as a member of Grammy Award-winning trio Nickel Creek, with whom he released three albums and sold two million records. As a soloist he has released five albums, as well as performing and recording extensively as a duo with Edgar Meyer and with fellow eminent mandolinist Mike Marshall. Other stellar musicians with whom Thile has collaborated include Béla Fleck and Hilary Hahn. Nonesuch Records released Thile's most recent solo recording, Bach: Partitas and Sonatas, Vol.1, produced by Meyer, on August 6, 2013.
In demand as both a performer and a composer, Edgar Meyer has formed a role in the music world unlike any other. Hailed by The New Yorker as "...the most remarkable virtuoso in the relatively un-chronicled history of his instrument," Mr. 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. His uniqueness in the field was recognized by a MacArthur Award in 2002.
As a solo classical bassist, Mr. Meyer can be heard on a concerto album with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra conducted by Hugh Wolff featuring Bottesini's Gran Duo with Joshua Bell, Meyer's own Double Concerto for Bass and Cello with Yo-Yo Ma, Bottesini's Bass Concerto No. 2, and Meyer's own Concerto in D for Bass. He has also recorded an album featuring three of Bach's Unaccompanied Suites for Cello. In 2006, he released a self-titled solo recording on which he wrote and recorded all of the music, incorporating piano, guitar, mandolin, dobro, banjo, gamba, and double bass. In 2007, recognizing his wide-ranging recording achievements, Sony/BMG released a compilation of The Best of Edgar Meyer. In 2011 Mr. Meyer joined cellist Yo-Yo Ma, mandolinist Chris Thile, and fiddler Stuart Duncan for the Sony Masterworks recording The Goat Rodeo Sessions which was awarded the 2012 Grammy Award for Best Folk Album.
As a composer, Mr. Meyer has carved out a remarkable and unique niche in the musical world. One of his most recent compositions is the Double Concerto for Double Bass and Violin which received its world premiere July 2012 with Joshua Bell at the Tanglewood Music Festival with the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Mr. Meyer and Mr. Bell have also performed the work at the Hollywood Bowl with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Aspen Music Festival, and with the Nashville and Toronto symphony orchestras. In the 2011-12 season, Mr. Meyer was composer in residence with the Alabama Symphony where he premiered his third concerto for double bass and orchestra. Mr. Meyer has collaborated with Béla Fleck and Zakir Hussain to write a triple concerto for double bass, banjo, and tabla, which was commissioned for the opening of the Schermerhorn Symphony Center in Nashville. The triple concerto was recorded with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra under Leonard Slatkin and featured on the 2009 recording The Melody of Rhythm, a collection of trio pieces all co-composed by Mr. Meyer, Mr. Fleck and Mr. Hussain. Mr. Meyer has performed his second double bass concerto with the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra and his first double bass concerto with Edo de Waart and the Minnesota Orchestra. Other compositions of Mr. Meyer's include a violin/piano work which has been performed by Joshua Bell at New York's Lincoln Center, a quintet for bass and string quartet premiered with the Emerson String Quartet and recorded on Deutsche Grammophon, a Double Concerto for Bass and Cello premiered with Yo-Yo Ma and The Boston Symphony Orchestra under Seiji Ozawa, and a violin concerto written for Hilary Hahn which was premiered and recorded by Ms. Hahn with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra led by Hugh Wolff.
Collaborations are a central part of Mr. Meyer's work. His longtime collaboration with fellow MacArthur Award recipient Chris Thile continues in 2014 with the release on Nonesuch Records of a recording of all new original material by the two genre bending artists, a follow up to their very successful 2008 CD/DVD on Nonesuch. Mr. Meyer's previous performing and recording collaborations include a duo with Béla Fleck; a quartet with Joshua Bell, Sam Bush and Mike Marshall; a trio with Béla Fleck and Mike Marshall; and a trio with Yo-Yo Ma and Mark O'Connor. The latter collaborated for the 1996 Appalachia Waltz release which soared to the top of the charts and remained there for 16 weeks. Appalachia Waltz toured extensively in the U.S., and the trio was featured both on the David Letterman Show and the televised 1997 Inaugural Gala. Joining together again in 2000, the trio toured Europe, Asia and the US extensively and recorded a follow up recording to Appalachia Waltz, Appalachian Journey, which was honored with a Grammy Award. In the 2006-2007 season, Mr. Meyer premiered a piece for double bass and piano performed with Emanuel Ax. Mr. Meyer also performs with pianist Amy Dorfman, his longtime collaborator for solo recitals featuring both classical repertoire and his own compositions, Mike Marshall in duo concerts and the trio with Béla Fleck and Zakir Hussain which has toured the US, Europe and Asia together.
Mr. Meyer began studying bass at the age of five under the instruction of his father and continued further to study with Stuart Sankey. In 1994 he received the Avery Fisher Career Grant and in 2000 became the only bassist to receive the Avery Fisher Prize. Currently, he is Visiting Professor of Double Bass at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia.