Edgar Meyer and son to take the stage at Aspen Music Festival
The Aspen Times
If You Go …
Who: Edgar Meyer
Where: Harris Concert Hall
When: Thursday, Aug. 17, 8 p.m.
How much: $55
Tickets: Wheeler Opera House and Harris Hall box offices; www.aspenmusicfestival.com
More info: The program will include works by Haydn, Bach, Roossini, Edgar and George Meyer, and Bottesini’s Bass Concerto No. 2 in B minor.
Bassist Edgar Meyer has led some of the most memorable collaborations onstage in Aspen, performing genre-bending concerts with musicians from banjoist Bela Fleck and tabla player Zakir Hussain to jazz bassist Christian McBride, violinist Joshua Bell and mandolin player Chris Thile.
On Thursday evening at Harris Concert Hall, he’ll join forces with cellist Alisa Weilerstein and pianist Tengku Irfan and another very special guest: his son, the violinist and composer George Meyer.
The father-son duo will perform two of George’s original compositions.
“George is one of my favorite composers,” Meyer said this week via email. “I have actually never really given him any particular advice on composing, partially because he does not seem to need it. Definitely cuts down on my work load.”
Edgar Meyer has been a summertime fixture in Aspen since his days as a student here in 1982 and 1983 and through a monumental career that’s included an Avery Fisher Prize, a MacArthur “genius” grant and a genre agnostic approach to music that has spanned classical, bluegrass, jazz and pop.
“I see most music as a system of regional dialects, but not different languages,” he explained. “Not to say that it all mixes and matches, but that most music is part of a multidimensional spectrum, and not a collection of specialized niches.”
Meyer has spent this summer in Aspen teaching, attending concerts, spending quality mountain time with his family — he is married to fellow Aspen alumna and violin faculty member Cornelia Heard — and picking up some gigs. He and George, a recent Juilliard grad, performed together in Salida and in Lyons at the RockyGrass Festival with lap steel player Jerry Douglas and singer Odessa Settles. Meyer also has been chipping away on a few new solo bass pieces for a recording project.
Thursday’s recital includes Meyer’s own “Canon” and “The Great Sea Snake,” accompanied by Irfan, along with a Rossini duet with Weilerstein.
Meyer’s gift for finding collaborators with whom he can find new sounds and fresh interpretations of old ones — his recital also includes Bach and Haydn canons — is difficult to explain for the virtuoso.
“Defining what makes a great collaborator almost seems like trying to define what makes a great friend or a great spouse,” he said. “I do not feel as though I can condense it to an essence. I would probably start with yin and yang.”
Meyer also is performing Bottesini’s bass concerto on today — one of the final concerto performances in what the Aspen Music Festival dubbed “The Year of the Concerto.” Asked about the form and the possibilities it opens up for him, Meyer recalled that when he was growing up in Tennessee, his father would put violin concertos by Bach, Beethoven and Brahms on the family phonograph before church Sunday mornings.
“That felt like real church,” he said. “Concertos highlight both ends of the spectrum, performance and composition. Bottesini brought his unique combination of 19th-century virtuosity and Italian opera to the concerto.”