World Premiere of Concerto for Banjo and Chamber Symphony

Canadian banjoist Jayme Stone is set to premiere a new Concerto for Banjo and Chamber Symphony later this month in London, ON.

The piece is This County Is My Home, composed by Andrew Downing for Stone to perform. Downing will also conduct the premiere, which will take place on July 22 at the Home County Music & Art Festival. In addition to the new composition, other works by both Stone and Downing will be performed with members of Orchestra London, arranged for a chamber orchestra.

Downing describes his collaboration with Stone as a natural blending of sympathetic artists…

“Writing this piece has been an interesting and highly rewarding challenge. The main aspects of its existence – writing music for an instrument with a tremendous amount of depth and history, writing music for an accompanying instrumentation that allows for a lot of colour and texture, and writing music to be played by a bunch of wonderful musicians in my home town – have made it something very personal indeed.

The way Jayme so adeptly plays the banjo draws from folk traditions, jazz traditions, and classical music in the same way that my own musical upbringing was formed, so I really tried to strive to make the piece incorporate those elements and sound as much like ME as possible! My hope is partly that the piece breaks down some of the already crumbling barriers between different types of music, but mostly that the audience has a good time listening.”

…and Jayme describes his joy in Andrew’s music, and plans to commit the Concerto to disc.

“It’s a thrill and honour to be premiering Andrew’s This County is My Home, Concerto for Banjo and Chamber Symphony. Andrew and I have been playing together for over ten years and have long been dreaming about some way to work on a piece of music together. This commission has really allowed Andrew’s compositional brilliance to shine and the piece seriously celebrates and stretches the banjo’s possibilities. Learning the piece has already opened up so many new technical, textural, harmonic doors for me. It’ll be quite something to sit there with the enormity of the orchestra behind me.

After the Home County premiere, I plan to record the concerto on my forthcoming album and perform it in concert with symphonies. Andrew’s also working on a reduction of the second movement for a collaboration with a string quartet that I’ll be premiering in the fall. I’m certain that the piece will have a good long life.”

This isn’t his first foray into classical banjo, as you can see in this 2010 video of Bach’s Allemande from the French Suite No. 6, along with Joe Phillips on five string bass.


Following the premiere, Jayme will embark on a lengthy tour across Canada and the US, running through the Fall. He promises to post video reports of his travels on his web site.

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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.