Banjos with the San Francisco Symphony

As part of a tribute to San Francisco-based philanthropist Warren Hellman, who passed away this past December, the San Francisco Symphony will include a suite of banjo music in their concerts this week. Hellman, a banjo player himself, was a strong supporter of the symphony, in addition to his founding and financing of the annual Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival in San Francisco.

Bay Area banjoist Bill Evans has been tapped by the symphony to put something banjo-oriented together in Warren’s honor for a series shows May 10-12 called Barbary Coast and Beyond: Music from the Gold Rush to the Panama-Pacific Exposition.

According to Bill…

“Jody Stecher, Scott Nygaard and myself are performing three songs near the beginning of the concert, just after the full symphony plays an opening piece. We’re performing A Ragtime Episode from Paul Eno, Hard Times by Stephen Foster and Pensacola by Parke Hunter.

The theme of these concerts is music heard in San Francisco between 1850 and 1911 and these three pieces, including two classic-era ragtime-esque pieces, are representative of what might have been heard on the five-string banjo in these years.

I’m playing five-string banjo for all three pieces and Jody and Scott are switching off between a guitar-banjo and a five-string. We’re going to make quite a racket!”

Find all the details online.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.