FEATURE: LPO Commissions Béla Fleck To Write Piece For New Orleans Tricentennial

Sam D’Arcanegelo for OFF BEAT MAGAZINE –

The National Endowment for the Arts has awarded the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra (LPO) a grant to commission banjoist and composer Béla Fleck to write a composition for the New Orleans tricentennial. The $15,000 award is one 1,029 grants that were given out as part of the endowment’s $82 million Art Works program.

New Orleans’ tricentennial will take place in 2018 and feature a variety of celebrations across the city (La Nouvelle-Orléans was founded by French colonizer Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne, Sieur de Bienville in 1718).

“This anniversary year will be a time to reflect on the rich history of our region and how it informs the way we build toward the future,” said LPO Chief Executive Officer James William Boyd. “Louisiana is known throughout the world as a mecca for music, from Cajun and country to jazz, ragtime, and R&B, but the full extent of the state’s musical legacy is often overlooked. As such, the celebrations centered around the tricentennial present an opportunity to showcase a new composition that brings together the New Orleans jazz tradition with contemporary orchestral repertoire.”


The Fleck commission will be a part of the LPO’s 2017-2018 season, which will include a trip to New York City’s famed Carnegie Hall for a season celebrating the venue’s composer-in-residence, Philip Glass. Fleck will join the LPO for performances of his new piece—a concerto for banjo—on three occasions: twice in New Orleans and once in Covington, LA.

The newly commissioned work will be the third concerto for banjo and orchestra composed by Fleck, who was inspired to take up the project after a series of appearances with the LPO in 2015.

“The arts reflect the vision, energy, and talent of America’s artists and arts organizations,” said NEA Chairman Jane Chu. “The National Endowment for the Arts is proud to support organizations such as the LPO, in serving their communities by providing excellent and accessible arts experiences.”

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Béla Fleck on TKA