Edgar Meyer, “Best Bassist Alive,” Performs April 17 at Lawrence University

APPLETON, WIS. — Three-time Grammy Award winning bassist Edgar Meyer puts the exclamation mark on Lawrence University’s 100th anniversary celebration of its 2008-09 Artist Series with a performance Friday, April 17 at 8 p.m. in the Lawrence Memorial Chapel.

Tickets for the concert, at $20-22 for adults, $17-19 for seniors and $15-17 for students, are available through the Lawrence Box Office, 420 E. College Ave., Appleton, 920-832-6749.

Hailed as “the best bassist alive” by San Diego Magazine, Meyer combines unmatched technical virtuosity with innovative composition to set new standards for the double bass, generating growing acceptance and popularity of the bass as a solo instrument in the process.

He has recorded several of Bach’s cello suites — once considered an unimaginable feat for the bass — and his classical solo performances have earned critical acclaim. But Meyer also steps outside the classical genre, collaborating frequently with a wide range of country, folk and bluegrass artists, among them the Chieftains, Garth Brooks, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Emmylou Harris, Lyle Lovett and Travis Tritt.

Much of his work is drawn from Appalachian and Celtic musical traditions and he traces his love of folk and bluegrass music to his childhood Tennessee roots and his choice of instrument to genetics.

“My father was a bass player, one of my father’s brothers was a bass player and my mother’s only brother was a bass player,” Meyer explained in an interview with National Public Radio. “The bass was a very natural way to spend [my] time.”

In 2002, Meyer was awarded a $500,000 MacArthur Fellowship, the so-called “genius grant” and he is the only bassist to receive the Avery Fisher Prize, which recognizes exceptional American classical musicians.

“Expect to be amazed,” said Mark Urness, Lawrence assistant professor of music who teaches string bass, of Meyer’s upcoming concert. “He is one of the world’s pre-eminent double bassists. But more importantly, Meyer transcends the instrument and creates incredible music by any measure. His concerts are infused with the diversity of music styles he loves: classical, bluegrass, and jazz.

“After hearing him perform,” Urness added, “you’ll understand why he has won multiple Grammys as well as the Avery Fisher Prize and the MacAurthur ‘genius’ award.”

Meyer’s discography includes “Appalachian Journey” with Yo-Yo Ma and Mark O’Connor, which earned a Grammy Award for best classical crossover album, “Perpetual Motion” with banjo virtuoso Bela Fleck, which earned two Grammys and “Short Trip Home” with Joshua Bell, Sam Bush and Mike Marshall, which received a Grammy nomination for best classical crossover album.