Penn State College of Arts and Architecture
Center for the Performing Arts at Penn State

Event Slides Per Node 1415

Béla Fleck and Abigail Washburn

7:30 pm Thursday, October 22, 2015

A banjo duo might seem like a musical concept beset by limitations. But when the banjo players are Béla Fleck and Abigail Washburn, it’s a different matter. He brings the virtuosic, jazz-to-classical ingenuity of an iconic instrumentalist and composer with bluegrass roots. She possesses the earthy sophistication of a postmodern, old-time singer-songwriter. On stage and in their relationship—they’ve been married since 2009—they’re a one-of-a-kind pairing. Fleck, winner of fifteen Grammy Awards, has devoted considerable time away from his standard-setting of Béla Fleck and the Flecktones to pursue an array of musical experiments, including writing a concerto for the Nashville Symphony and investigating the banjo’s African roots. An alumna of Uncle Earl, the powerhouse all-female string band, Washburn has adopted China as her second home. Her music—instrumental and vocal—resounds with echoes of Appalachia and Chinese cultural influences. On their debut album as a duo, the couple uses a combined seven banjos, including a cello banjo, a ukulele banjo that belongs to their son Juno, and a baritone banjo that Fleck commissioned for the project. “This is not Dueling Banjos: The Married Couple Edition. You won’t find the careening energy of the mano-a-mano from the Deliverance soundtrack, or of the Flatt and Scruggs classic ‘Foggy Mountain Breakdown.’ Outbreaks of dazzling speed-demon technique are few,” an NPR reviewer points out. “Instead, the first duo recording from Béla Fleck and Abigail Washburn … is notable for its understated, welcoming calm. Across eleven short, carefully arranged slivers of Americana, Fleck and Washburn explore roots music using the tones and coloration options that arise when two banjos join in conversation.”

Adult $45
University Park Student $17
18 and Younger $35

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Richard and Sally Kalin

media sponsor

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Secondary Events on Each Event

Bilingual Bluegrass
featuring Abigail Washburn

2:15 pm Thursday, October 22, 2015

Deike Building Portrait Gallery

Free and open to the public

The public is invited to attend Bilingual Bluegrass, a collaboration between banjoist/singer Abigail Washburn and the Penn State Asian Classical Music Club. Washburn will share samples of her music and discuss some of her cross-cultural experiences working in China. Club members will juxtapose her input with examples of Asian musical traditions. Penn State’s Center for the Performing Arts and College of Earth and Mineral Sciences host the one-hour event. A question-and-answer period will follow the presentation. Light refreshments will be provided. The College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, the Richard R. Brown Earth and Mineral Sciences Art Appreciation Endowment, the Ryan Family Student Center, and the Earth and Mineral Sciences Museum and Art Gallery support the gallery event.

Artistic Viewpoints

6:30 pm Thursday, October 22, 2015

Eisenhower Auditorium

Artistic Viewpoints, an informal moderated discussion featuring Béla Fleck, is offered in Eisenhower Auditorium one hour before the performance and is free for ticket holders. Artistic Viewpoints regularly fills to capacity, so seating is available on a first-arrival basis.