Thursday, November 16, 2017, 8pm — Sanders Theatre
(Boston) Celebrity Series of Boston will present banjoists Béla Fleck & Abigail Washburn on Thursday, November 16, 2017, at 8pm at Sanders Theatre, Memorial Hall, Harvard University,
45 Quincy Street, Cambridge.
Tickets start at $30, and are available online at www.celebrityseries.org, by calling the Celebrity Series box office at (617) 482-6661 Monday-Friday 10:00 a.m.- 4:00 p.m., or at the Sanders Theatre box office, Holyoke Center, 1350 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge.
This performance marks the fifth Celebrity Series performance for Béla Fleck; he made his debut with 2011 with the Flecktones and was seen most recently in 2016. This will be Abigail Washburn’s third Celebrity Series performance. Fleck and Washburn last appeared together with the Series in 2014.
Fleck and Washburn met at a square dance and began playing music together a dozen years ago, beginning with the Sparrow Quartet. They married shortly thereafter and became parents to a cute little tot, Juno. They’ve been touring the globe as a duo for years, almost nonstop but for each other’s performances with various other musical iterations: Béla with the likes of Béla Fleck & the Flecktones, Chick Corea and Chris Thile, among many others, and Abigail with Wu Fei (a master of the ancient 21-string Chinese zither), The Wu-Force and Uncle Earl.
Béla Fleck was born on July 10, 1958, and raised in New York City. Earl Scruggs’s banjo style hooked Fleck’s interest immediately while watching The Beverly Hillbillies as a young boy. “It was like sparks going off in my head,” he later said.
He got hold of a banjo, took his musical namesakes (Béla for Bartok, Anton for Weburn, Leos for Yanecek) to heart, and has since continuously broken new musical ground with his instrument. Fleck has the distinction of being nominated in more categories than any other instrumentalist in Grammy history, and has brought his banjo through scorching hot newgrass, traditional bluegrass, otherworldly funk, modern jazz, African originals, transatlantic Celtic, and classical realms, with two self-composed banjo concertos to his name (The Impostor and Juno Concerto), with a third one in the works.
He has collaborated with Sam Bush, Jerry Douglas, Edgar Meyer, and Mark O’Connor in an acoustic super-group called Strength in Numbers. Their MCA release, The Telluride Session, is considered an evolutionary statement by the acoustic music community. He was also invited to record on albums by Garth Brooks, Dolly Parton, Randy Travis, The Oak Ridge Boys, The Gatlin Brothers, and many others.
Since 1998, Fleck has garnered 30 Grammy Award nominations and has won 15 of them. He has been nominated in more categories than any instrumentalist in Grammy Award history.
If American old-time music is about taking earlier, simpler ways of life and music-making as one’s model, Abigail Washburn has proven herself to be a bracing revelation to that tradition. She – a singing, songwriting, Illinois-born, Nashville-based clawhammer banjo player – is every bit as interested in the present and the future as she is in the past, and every bit as attuned to the global as she is to the local. Abigail pairs venerable folk elements with far-flung sounds, and the results feel both strangely familiar and unlike anything anybody’s ever heard before.
One fateful day 11 years ago, Washburn was miraculously offered a record deal in the halls of a bluegrass convention in Kentucky which changed her trajectory from becoming a lawyer in China to a traveling folk musician. Since then, Abigail has been recording and touring a continuous stream of music. Her music ranges from the “all-g’earl” string band sound of Uncle Earl to her bi-lingual solo release Song of the Traveling Daughter (2005), to the mind-bending “chamber roots” sound of the Sparrow Quartet, to the rhythms, sounds and stories of Afterquake, her fundraiser CD for the Sichuan earthquake victims. She’s also the author of her semi-autobiographical theatrical work, Post-American Girl, and a musical ambassador with China, a country with which she has a long, profound history. The New York Times praised her 2011 release, City of Refuge, written with collaborator Kai Welch, saying the songs “mingle Appalachia and folk-pop, with tinges of Asia and Bruce Springsteen.”
Abigail is deftly following in the footsteps of the founding mothers of folk, and has become a prominent voice of old-time in our time while bringing to light those ancient sounds of American and Far East cultures in new and exciting ways. Her most recent release, Béla Fleck & Abigail Washburn (2014) was recorded with her husband, 15-time Grammy award winning banjo virtuoso, Béla Fleck. Currently Abigail and Béla are touring the world as a “trio” with their growing little boy Juno.
Program to be announced from the stage.
About Celebrity Series of Boston
Celebrity Series of Boston was founded in 1938 by pianist and impresario Aaron Richmond. Over the course of its 79-year history, Celebrity Series has presented an array of the world’s greatest performing artists, including Sergei Rachmaninoff, Arturo Toscanini, Ignace Paderewski, Artur Rubenstein, Vladimir Horowitz, Glenn Gould, Fritz Kreisler, Jascha Heifetz, Isaac Stern, Andrés Segovia, Kirsten Flagstad, Marian Anderson, Luciano Pavarotti, Béla Bartók, Igor Stravinsky, Martha Graham, Ballet Russe De Monte Carlo, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Mstislav Rostropovich, and the New York City Opera Company.
From orchestras and chamber ensembles, vocal and piano music, to dance companies, jazz, spoken word, and more, Celebrity Series has been bringing great artists to Boston’s major concert halls for nearly eight decades. The Celebrity Series of Boston believes in the power of excellence and innovation in the performing arts to enrich life experiences, transform lives and build better communities. Through its Arts for All! community programs, the Celebrity Series seeks to build a community of Greater Boston where the performing arts are a valued, lifelong, shared experience–on stages, in schools, at home– everywhere.
The Celebrity Series of Boston, Inc. receives generous support from Leslie & Howard Appleby, Amy & Joshua Boger, the Barr Foundation, the Boston Cultural Council, The Boston Foundation, the Stephanie L. Brown Foundation, The Catered Affair, Susanne Marcus Collins Foundation, Deloitte LLP, Donna & Mike Egan, Foley & Lardner LLP, the French-US Exchange in Dance, Gabor Garai & Susan Pravda, David & Harriet Griesinger, Zachary Haroutunian and the Garbis & Arminé Barsoumian Charitable Foundation, Paul L. King, the Liberty Mutual Foundation, the Massachusetts Cultural Council, the National Endowment for the Arts, Eleanor & Frank Pao, The Peabody Foundation, Melinda & James Rabb, the Cynthia and John S. Reed Foundation, the Royal Little Family Foundation, the Stifler Family Foundation, Mrs. Belinda Herrera Termeer, Michael and Susan Thonis, Tufts Health Plan, Nancy Richmond Winsten, Anonymous, and many others.