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Easy Listening: Adult contemporary Classical: Contemporary Moods: Type: Acoustic Moods: Instrumental Moods: Type: Instrumental

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John Bullard

John Bullard plays five-string banjo, which you might expect from a southerner. But there’s a gothic twist: he plays classical music. If you think about it, it’s actually the perfect southern art—a gentleman playing classical music on a banjo. One minute he’s bush-hogging a field on his John Deere tractor, the next he’s on his porch playing a Bach partita. And to be clear: these aren’t bluegrass renditions, they’re exact classical transcriptions done by someone who’s been devotedly drawn to Baroque and Renaissance music for 30 years.

Bullard’s new album, Classical Banjo: The Perfect Southern Art, is the summation of his life’s work. Over a dozen musicians and an eight-person choir helped make this unprecedented album of (mostly) complete works by Baroque and Romantic composers. Just as Cormac McCarthy is called “a writer’s writer,” you might call John Bullard “a banjo player’s banjo player.” Classical Banjo: The Perfect Southern Art presents a variety of tone color, beautifully executed ornamentation, and sensitive interpretations. The pieces are fragile and intimate in Bullard’s hands. Peaceful and austere. If you close your eyes you might think you’re listening to a harpsichord, but it’s not. It’s banjo as you’ve never heard it: as a perfect southern art.

Producer Jayme Stone says, “I think of John as a singular figure—the only genuine classical banjoist. Someone who is connected with a lineage of classical musicians and has that lifelong, monk-like dedication. He came to me ready to sum up his life’s work. I helped him present his music in a more grand way—to reflect its maturity, depth, and rigour.”

Bullard has gained international attention for his work in developing and transcribing classical repertoire for the five-string banjo. Other critically acclaimed CD releases by Bullard include John Bullard – The Classical Banjo on the Dargason label and Bach on the Banjo on Albany Records.
In 2005, he became the first classical banjoist to graduate from Virginia Commonwealth University’s Department of Music with a Bachelor of Music degree in Performance. Graduating magna cum laude, John was inducted into Pi Kappa Lambda, the prestigious national music honor society.
​Music from John’s recordings has been included in several feature films such as the DreamWorks animated film The Rise of the Guardians and the award winning The Edge of Heaven. John was on the faculty of the world-renowned Tennessee Banjo Institute along with such luminaries as Pete Seeger, Bela Fleck and Tony Trischka. John is currently teaching banjo as an Affiliate Artist at Cairn University.