Classical Banjo: The Perfect Southern Art – John Bullard, banjo

by | Sep 8, 2016 | Classical CD Reviews

The virtuoso of classical works on the banjo.

Classical Banjo: The Perfect Southern Art [TrackList follows] – John Bullard, banjo – self

SCHUMANN: Three Romances for Oboe
MARCELLO: Concerto in d
TELEMANN: Partita No. 5 in e
HANDEL: Trio Sonata in g, Op. 2 No. 8
BACH: Fugue, Sonata No. 1
BACH: Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring; Movement Ten from Cantata BWV 147
GRIEG: Lyric pieces

As you can see by the track listing, this banjo player has even eclipsed Bela Fleck in handling a variety of classical music on the lowly banjo. Bullard was originally kicked out of Virginia’s Commonwealth Music Program because of his instrument. On this CD (and some earlier ones) he reimagines the banjo altogether, as some other performers have amazingly done lately with the lowly ukelele.

Bullard went to the Old-Time Fiddlers’ Convention in Virginia and eventually met and recorded Fred Boyce, who played Bach on the banjo. He studied with Boyce, recorded two albums of classical banjo and eventually graduated from VCU’s Dept. of Music. He has also published two books on the classical banjo and his music is featured in two motion pictures.

Bullard himself did the transcriptions of some of the above works, which originally were for oboe and piano. He has full credits for all the musicians who provided the continuo and other backing for his performances. He was originally introduced as a child to the sound of the banjo by his father on a truck, with the tune called “Dueling Banjos.”  Bullard has come a long way since then.

—John Sunier

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