Banjo Masters: John Bullard and Adam Larrabee (July 17)

2020 Guitar and Other Strings Series (28th season)

Friday, July 17, 2020 at 7:30 p.m.
Sonia Vlahcevic Concert Hall
W.E. Singleton Center for the Performing Arts

General admission $15
Non-VCU Student $10
Free for VCU students with ID
Click here to purchase tickets.

Over the course of his performing and recording career, John Bullard has invited audiences to share in a transformative revelation: to experience the artistic marriage of banjo and classical music. “Absolutely enchanting,” writes critic Graham Rickson of the UK-based The Arts Desk. “A musical education and experience that broke genre barriers,” noted Morgan Morrison, program director for the performance space The Barns of Rose Hill.

With qualities evocative of harpsichord and lute, the banjo makes a natural place for itself in particular within the works of Bach and other composers of the Baroque—and Bullard has established a strong repertoire in the music of that period. Yet he continues as well to expand the banjo’s classical reach, with a growing focus on new commissioned works.

As a classically trained musician and the first graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University’s Department of Music to earn a degree in performance with the banjo, Bullard has toured and performed throughout the United States. He has produced three album-length recordings; the most recent, with works by Romantic and Baroque composers, was recorded at the Toronto studios of Canterbury Music, with accompaniment from more than a dozen musicians and an eight-person choir. His recordings have been featured in films including the Dreamworks movie Rise of the Guardians and the award-winning Turkish-German drama The Edge of Heaven. He is the author of Bach for Banjo and Scales and Arpeggios for Classical Banjo, and he has taught classical banjo at workshops and as a faculty member of Cairn University.

“John’s artistry and ability to present the banjo as a classical instrument was amazing.” Music on Market Series, Wilmington, N.C.


Adam Larrabee has appeared as a sideman on Bruce Hornsby’s album Spirit Trail and has involved himself in a wide variety of projects in the past few years from playing banjo in the bluegrass group Joy Kills Sorrow, guitar in the chamber-jazz group Andromeda, classical mandolin with The Richmond Classical Guitar Quartet and mandocello with Enigmatica, recording and performing with rising jazz prodigy Grace Kelly, and his exploration of the music of Central France with Le Bon Vent. In 2006, he won an Independent Music Award for his composition Norwegian Slip in the world/fusion category. Most recently, Adam has released a duo CD with pianist Bob Hallahan entitled The Street Where You Live in addition to a recreation of Duke Ellington’s classic recording Money Jungle recording with his current trio with drummer Brian Jones and bassist Randall Pharr. In October 2009, Adam played banjo with Love Canon, backing up rising pop/folk star Josh Ritter on a sold out two week tour of Ireland. In Oct 2010 Adam traveled to Ankara, Turkey for the Haceteppe Konservatory Jazz Festival and played in the premiere of Ben Seni Variations, a work for Orchestra and Jazz Octet by Doug Richards. Adam taught jazz theory, composition and arranging at The New England Conservatory in Boston for nine years and currently lives in Charlottesville, Virginia. He has taught classical and jazz guitar at Virginia Commonwealth University, and banjo and mandolin at the University of Virginia. He currently heads the classical guitar and jazz guitar programs at James Madison University in Harrisonburg.

“Adam deploys the full panoply of banjo techniques available to a 21st-century player—rolling, melodic, and single-string—with great facility and musicality.” Banjo Newsletter