Double bass virtuoso Edgar Meyer plays at Sewanee

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Photo courtesy of IMG Artists

By Lawrence Rogers

Staff Writer

As a part of the University’s 2016-2017 Performing Arts Series, Edgar Meyer, one of the world’s few living double bass virtuosos, came to Guerry Auditorium on Saturday, October 8 to give a concert for members of the Sewanee community. This performance was not Meyer’s first at Sewanee; in 2013, he made a surprise visit alongside banjoist Béla Fleck and pianist Chick Corea. It was, however, his first visit as a headliner.

The performance began with an introduction by Chair of the Music Department Dr. Steven Miller, outlining Meyer’s many accomplishments, which include 7 Grammys, an Avery Fisher Award, and a MacArthur Fellowship. Meyer, who grew up in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, is currently based in Nashville, where he is an adjunct professor at Vanderbilt University’s Blair School of Music. He also teaches at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia and is an artist-faculty member at the Aspen Music Festival and School. After the introduction, Meyer wordlessly took the stage and began playing the prelude to Johann Sebastian Bach’s “Cello Suite No. 3.”

The first half of Meyer’s act seemed more an expression of his own virtuosity than an attempt to engage the audience. He finished out the suite to much applause before explaining the three very intricate parts of his original composition and playing them through. The second half of the performance contrasted sharply with the first: rather than the complexity of the Bach cello suites or the convoluted time signatures of his original composition, Meyer played songs like “Pickles,” a fun little number with musical themes as unassuming as its title. The Irish jigs and bluegrass pieces of the second half had the audience whistling their applause and tapping their feet in what felt more like a concert than a musical show of force.

Up next in the Performing Arts Series is an organ recital by Catherine Rodland in All Saints’ Chapel on Friday, November 18, followed by a day full of performances by the American Spiritual Ensemble on Wednesday, February 8 of next year.

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