In 1986, Edgar Meyer made his first solo appearance with the Nashville Symphony, performing Bottesini’s Double Bass Concerto No. 2. Now, 30 years later, Meyer will play the piece with the orchestra again. This time, however, the accompanying program will include the world premiere of a new piece composed by Meyer himself.
This isn't the first time the Nashville Symphony has premiered a new work by Meyer, but it does signal a new approach to writing music for the award-winning composer and instrumentalist.
Known as one of the foremost double bass soloists—not only in his home-city of Nashville, but worldwide—the list of Meyer’s career highlights is a long one: in 2002, his exceptional creativity in the arts was recognized with a MacArthur Fellowship.
He’s also a five-time Grammy winner, picking up several of those awards for collaborations with cellist Yo-Yo Ma and mandolinist Chris Thile. The trio will perform a sold-out tribute to the music of J.S. Bach at the Schermerhorn next month.
Another collaboration marked Meyer’s performance at the the opening of the Schermerhorn Symphony Center in 2006: his Triple Concerto for Double Bass, Banjo and Tabla was performed with fellow Nashvillian Béla Fleck and percussionist Zakir Hussein.
Meyer’s latest offering with the Nashville Symphony will continue in the spirit of collaboration, but this time with an even greater emphasis on group-effort. The work, simply titled New Piece for Orchestra, will be Meyer’s first composition for standard orchestra that does not feature a soloist.
In the symphony program notes, Meyer discusses the added creative challenge of composing for a solo-less ensemble. “At the heart of it,” he explains, “you have to think of enough ideas to engage 80 people for the duration of the piece. Keeping the ideas compact, interrelated, and organized is easier for me than having enough ideas and variety.”
The Nashville Symphony will perform the world premiere of Meyer’s composition this weekend in a program that also includes the music of Bottesini, Debussy and Ravel.