Bass Dialect: Edgar Meyer Comes to Lawrence

Laura Streyle

Masterful performer and innovative composer Edgar Meyer will give the penultimate concert in Lawrence University’s 100th Anniversary Artist Series season tonight, Friday, April 17 at 8 p.m in the Lawrence Memorial Chapel.
Hailed by The New Yorker as “the most remarkable virtuoso in the relatively unchronicled history of [the double bass],” Meyer’s breadth of musical style stretches across an impressively wide landscape of place and time.
He has recorded Bach cello suites on bass and he has recorded jazz; he plays bluegrass and he plays the blues; he fiddles and composes bass concertos. He has collaborated with bluegrass artists like Sam Bush, Jerry Douglas and Béla Fleck as well as with prominent classical icons like cellist Yo-Yo Ma and violinist Joshua Bell.
Describing music as “a common language with many different dialects,” it seems to be Meyer’s mission to become fluent in as many of these “different dialects” as possible through music making.
The many prestigious awards that Meyer has received over the years suggest that his musical accent is getting quite good. In 1994, Meyer became the first bassist to win the Avery Fisher Career Grant. He is a recipient of the MacArthur Foundation “genius” award, and he has also managed to win three Grammy Awards.
Meyer has developed the voice of the double bass through learning and experimenting with many other stringed instruments that could easily fit inside the gigantic body of his instrument. He is skilled at the violin, dobro, mandolin and guitar. He also uses the piano – perhaps better left outside of his bass – as a study tool for new ways to hear music. Needless to say, musicians of all sorts will find something to relate to in Meyer’s music.
After hearing his performance in the chapel tonight, new and old bass enthusiasts can find Meyer sharing his musical expertise in Harper Hall the following morning from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. during a master class that is free and open to the public.Tickets for the concert, at $20-22 for adults, $17-19 for seniors and $15-17 for students, are available through the Lawrence Box Office, 420 E. College Ave., Appleton, 920-832-6749.