TESSA LARK, JOSHUA ROMAN & EDGAR MEYER
From the start of his career, Oak Ridge, Tennessee native Edgar Meyer both pursued and excelled in two seemingly incongruous musical traditions: classical music and bluegrass. Of course, both disciplines require stellar instrumental technique, but apart from Meyer’s acolyte and frequent collaborator mandolinist Chris Thile, another bluegrass-and-beyond virtuoso, it’s not a hybrid we often encounter, especially when the two tracks seem to run parallel for so many years. In fact, Meyer is more often involved with dynamic cross-pollinations than straight old-time music.
Over the decades he’s jumped from involvement in the progressive bluegrass scene of the 1980s, where he worked with the likes of Béla Fleck and Jerry Douglas, to exploring the commonalities of Indian classical music and country with the great slide guitarist V.M. Bhatt, to tackling the music of Schubert alongside pianist Emmanuel Ax, to forging a mix of classical and rural music with cellist Yo-Yo Ma and fiddler Mark O’Connor on the acclaimed 1996 album Appalachia Waltz. More recently he’s balanced mad bluegrass chops with chamber music sophistication as part of the popular Goat Rodeo project with Ma, Thile, and fiddler Stuart Duncan.
At Big Ears, Meyer leads a trio with classical cellist Joshua Roman, the former principal cellist at the Seattle Symphony—at the age of 22!—with whom he’s performed his own compositions, and violinist Tessa Lark, a next generation classical musician with a deep investment in bluegrass tradition, who combines the two on an album mixing Ysaÿe and Bartók with Sierra Hull and Meyer. The repertoire will focus on trio music by Meyer, but don’t be surprised if a little Bach turns up.