Letters 11-23-2015

Cheering From Petoskey While red-eyed rats boil fanatically up from the ancient sewers of Paris to feast on pools of French blood, at the G20 meeting the farcical pied piper of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue thrusts a bony finger at the president of the Russian Federation and yells: “liberté, égalité, fraternité, Clinton, Kerry--Obamaism!”

The Other Mothers And Fathers Regarding the very nice recent article on “The First Lady of Yoga,” I have taken many classes with Sandy Carden, and I consider her to be a great teacher. However, I feel the article is remiss to not even give acknowledgement to other very important yoga influences in northern Michigan...

Drop The Blue Angels The last time I went to the National Cherry Festival, I picked the wrong day. The Blue Angels were forcing everyone to duck and cover from the earsplitting cacophony overhead...

Real Advice For The Sick In the Nov. 16 article “Flu Fighters,” author Kristi Kates fails to mention the most basic tool in our arsenal during Influenza season... the flu vaccine! I understand you might be afraid of being the victim of Jenny McCarthyism, but the science is there...

Keeping Traverse City in the Dark Our environment is our greatest asset. It sustains our lives; it drives our economy. We ignore it at our peril. Northern Michigan Environmental Action Council (NMEAC) has submitted letters of concern to both the city commission and planning commission regarding the proposed 9-story buildings on Pine Street. We have requested an independent environmental assessment with clear answers before a land use permit is granted...

All About Them Another cartoon by Jen Sorensen that brings out the truth! Most of her cartoons are too slanted in a Socialist manner, but when she gets it correct, she hits the nail on the target! “Arizona is the first state to put a 12-month lifetime limit on welfare benefits.” That quote is in the opening panel... 

Unfair To County Employees It appears that the commissioners of Grand Traverse County will seek to remedy a shortfall in the 2016 budget by instituting cuts in expenditures, the most notable the reduction of contributions to various insurance benefits in place for county employees. As one example, the county’s contributions to health insurance premiums will decrease from ten to six percent in 2016. What this means, of course, is that if a county employee wishes to maintain coverage at the current level next year, the employee will have to come up with the difference...

Up, Not Out I would like to congratulate the Traverse City Planning Commission on their decision to approve the River West development. Traverse City will either grow up or grow out. For countless reasons, up is better than out. Or do we enjoy such things as traffic congestion and replacing wooded hillsides with hideous spectacles like the one behind Tom’s West Bay. At least that one is on the edge of town as opposed to in the formerly beautiful rolling meadows of Acme Township...

Lessons In Winning War I am saddened to hear the response of so many of legislators tasked with keeping our country safe. I listen and wonder if they know what “winning” this kind of conflict requires or even means? Did we win in Korea? Did we win in Vietnam? Are we winning in Afghanistan? How is Israel winning against the Palestinians? Will they “take out” Hezbollah...

Home · Articles · News · Music · Super Strings
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Super Strings

Kristi Kates - June 23rd, 2014  


The banjo-driven theme song from the TV series “The Beverly Hillbillies” inspired a young Béla Fleck to pick up the instrument in New York City decades ago.

Now, the living banjo legend – a frequent contemporary, classical, and pop collaborator – is stringing a new sound together with Brooklyn Rider, a string quartet that has been described as “classical musicians performing with the energy of young rock stars.”


Both Fleck, a 14-time Grammy award winner, and Brooklyn Rider, a public radio favorite, are known for their eclectic musical pairings. Fleck has crafted music with his wife, fellow banjo player Abigail Washburn, as well as Chick Corea, the Dave Matthews Band, bassist Edgar Meyer, and Indian tabla player Zakir Hussain.

Brooklyn Rider – with Johnny Gandelsman on violin, Colin Jacobsen on violin, Nicholas Cords on viola, and Eric Jacobsen on cello – aren’t far behind.

They’ve already worked with Philip Glass, Iranian kamancheh player Kayhan Kalhor, singer-songwriter Suzanne Vega, and Chinese pipa virtuoso Wu Man.

Together, the banjo “quintet” is taking their program of original music by Fleck and other Brooklyn Rider favorites to more than 20 cities in North America this year.

Fleck is technically the elder statesman of the group, but after an early meeting, felt “lucky” that the quartet agreed to work with him.

“They are very warm, sweet, and fun people to spend time with,” Fleck said. “And I saw that they have a top-notch work ethic.”


Early on, Fleck brought some rough song ideas to Brooklyn Rider.

“Honestly, they made everything I had prepared sound so good, that it didn’t help make the decision of which [songs] to develop any easier!” he said.

Even though both artists have solid back catalogs to work with – as well as their joint album, 2013’s standout “The Imposter” – Fleck said he’s a fan of putting together a different set for each live collaboration.

“It takes more work, but it gives every group a very strong identity, even beyond the actual instruments in the ensembles,” he said.


Using “Night Flight Over Water” from “The Imposter” as a starting point, Fleck wrote another 20-minute long piece, and crafted arrangements of a couple of his older works to sprinkle in.

“I also learned several of Brooklyn Rider’s excellent pieces, and looked for a banjo role in those,” he said. “By the end, we had built a repertoire that we are very proud of.”

Fleck’s attention to detail is likely to be appreciated during the pairing’s July 1 Interlochen show.

“I have always loved coming to Interlochen to play,” he said. “It will be fun to play in the beautiful setting near the lake. And for a pretty big place, the venue has an intimacy that is very special.”

The fact that music is actually being taught there, he added, brings in another element that “feels great” to musicians.

“I am honestly thrilled that the admittedly offbeat music that I do can have a home in Interlochen,” Fleck said.

Béla Fleck and Brooklyn Rider will be in concert on July 1 at 8pm in the Kresge Auditorium, Interlochen Center for the Arts. For tickets and more, visit tickets.interlochen.org.

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