Telluride Bluegrass: Edgar Meyer Celebrates Silver

Telluride Bluegrass: Edgar Meyer Celebrates Silver

All 4-day passes and Fri/Sat single-day tickets to the Telluride Bluegrass Festival are completely sold-out.  However, Thursday and Sunday single-day tickets are still available at or 800-624-2422. Discounted 4-day passes and single-day tickets for San Miguel County residents may still be available at Telluride Music here.



Oh come let us adore him.

And join the ranks of the boys in the band – Sam, Jerry, Bela, Chris – plus critics and fans, who drop golden nuggets of praise in honor of Edgar Meyer, who is celebrating his silver anniversary with the Telluride Bluegrass Festival.

“One of the defining musical voices of Telluride Bluegrass, we’re celebrating Edgar’s 25th year officially in the TBF lineup.  Edgar has expanded and redefined what it means to play the double bass. Somehow all of Edgar’s many musical interests and directions come together on the Telluride Bluegrass stage – from classical to jazz to bluegrass,” said Planet Bluegrass marketing whiz Brian Eyster.

“…Edgar Meyer can coax his instrument to be as expressive as a cello in a Bach unaccompanied cello sonata, make it sing like a tenor or bounce like a bluegrass band in his own music and, in a pinch, get it to walk a bass line like a longtime jazzman,” Seen and Heard International.

“He has influenced me in all ways—his work ethic: he is a tireless worker. He leaves no stone unturned. Seeing the way he works with a piece of music, dotting all the I’s crossing all the T’s, has taught me so much. There’s no performance situation too trivial for him not to throw everything he has into it. Watching him connect body and soul in his playing and composing is incredibly inspiring,” said Chris Thile.

In fact, Edgar’s collaborations with Chris, a fellow MacArthur Fellow, are the stuff of music industry legend– and laurels.

The duo first met backstage at RockyGrass in the late-1990s and bonded, Edgar a longtime hero of the young mandolinist, songwriter and composer. In 2011, Edgar and Chris teamed up with cellist Yo-Yo Ma and fiddler Stuart Duncan for the Sony Masterworks recording The Goat Rodeo Sessions, awarded the 2012 Grammy® Award for Best Folk Album. Edgar and Chris were honored again – Edgar’s fifth Grammy® – in 2015 for Best Contemporary Instrumental album for their Bass & Mandolin release.

In demand as a performer and a composer, Edgar Meyer has a role in the music world unlike any other.

Hailed by The New Yorker as “…the most remarkable virtuoso in the relatively un-chronicled history of his instrument,” Edgar’s unparalleled technique and musicianship in combination with his gift for composition have placed him in the pantheon of several vastly different genres, from classical to bluegrass and folk; his crossover appeal guarantees a wide and varied audience.

Edgar has also joined forces on many occasions with 16-times Grammy-winning banjoist (and Telluride Bluegrass mainstay) Béla Fleck, as well as with the “King of Telluride,” banjoist Sam Bush, both similarly innovative and technically proficient musicians.

In fact, Edgar’s path to the Telluride and the Bluegrass Main Stage began with a chance meeting with Béla and Sam when Edgar was a student at the Aspen Music Festival.

According to long-time Festivarian and writer Charlotte Bell:

 The two had met once, briefly, but had never played together. Béla was performing with New Grass Revival in Aspen at the time, and heard about an amazing musician who had just placed third (Tim O’Brien took first) in the Pitkin County fiddle competition—on upright bass. “People were knocked out,” Béla recalled.

Edgar and Béla ended up jamming on Charlie Parker tunes in front of Aspen’s Häagen Dazs shop. 

”We knew then that he wasn’t your average hillbilly bass player out of Oak Ridge, Tennessee,” remembered Sam.

By the mid-1980s, Edgar along with Béla, Jerry Douglas, and Mark O’Connor were making Telluride Bluegrass history as Strength in Numbers, an all-star group which produced an album of 10 original compositions titled The Telluride Sessions and delighted Festivarians from 1989 – 1993.

In the years that followed, Edgar played Main Stage sets with Jerry and Russ Barenberg; James Taylor; as a member of the Telluride House Band; and in duos and trios with Béla, Chris and Mike Marshall, including a moving and memorable all-Bach Sunday morning set in 2003. In 2010, Edgar performed with Béla and Indian tabla player Zakir Hussain, whom Edgar says has influenced his music profoundly, especially in recent years.

Edgar has also collaborated with his bluegrass cohorts on many CDs, including duo and trio CDs with Béla, Chris, and Mike, including 1997’s Uncommon Ritual; projects such as Appalachia Waltz and the Grammy-winning Appalachian Journey with Yo-Yo Ma and Mark O’Connor; the aforementioned Goat Rodeo Sessions; Skip, Hop and Wobble with Jerry and Russ; and Short Trip Home with Sam, Mike, and Joshua Bell.

Outside our box canyon, Edgar juggles a wide assortment of musical projects, including a recording of Bach trios with Chris and Yo-Yo Ma.

“Christian McBride and I are preparing material for an upcoming recording. I am writing my first purely orchestral (no soloists) piece for the Nashville Symphony to be premiered next spring and I am also writing a violin concerto for Joshua Bell and the Academy of St. Martin in the Field to be premiered and toured the following year,” Edgar told Bell.

Wherever he is, Edgar Meyer is never too far from his lifelong musical companion, 1769 Gabrielli bass originally from Florence, Italy, an instrument that came to the U.S. in 195o and was purchased  – with a little help from his beloved father – in 1983.

Born into a musical family, Edgar’s enduring relationship with the string bass began at age five under the watchful eye of his father, also a bass player. At  Indiana University’s prestigious school of music, Stuart Sankey became his mentor.

In 1994, Edgar received the Avery Fisher Career Grant; in 2000, he became the only bassist to receive the Avery Fisher Prize. In 2002, as mentioned, Edgar Meyer received a MacArthur genius award.

Currently, Edgar is Visiting Professor of Double Bass at the prestigious Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia.

At Telluride Bluegrass, in addition to his Main Stage appearances, Edgar will be performing with his son George, including two original compositions by each, on the workshop stage in Elks Park.

To learn more about Edgar Meyer’s life and work, listen to his podcast.

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