June 7, 2016
Rick Robinson writes:
My apologies for being long overdue to keep you current on CutTime's landmark mission, extending classical music outside the arts bubble. We've had a somewhat busy winter season, but spring is largely empty as I anticipated a major project that didn't materialize. Going into summer we have a number of events around Detroit to crow about.
Our last newsletter was in November. Since then, CutTime and I completed our Knight Foundation project expanding the Classical Revolution Detroit series (CRD) to our first 33 professional events last year. We hired 84 different musicians to perform in 17 venues for just over 1,000 people attending. While that would not seem like many, we clearly won over many venue owners wanting us back and some new fans hot to introduce us to their own peeps, such as Trumbullplex, Crow Manor and Pharaoh's Lounge. We are maintaining these new relationships for when we have the support to accept.
CutTime scored a huge hit during the CRD series with a new Christmastime program we called the Messiah Singalong and Nutcracker Dance-along. Just as it sounds, audience brought scores and sang seven choruses between arias sung by members of OperaModo, our new partners in casual classical. I cross-arranged my Nutcracker Suite from CutTime Players to Simfonica with versatile keyboardist Doug Scott. With lots of laughter, personalities, wine, glorious music and a few new community musicians joining us, the December holidays will never be the same for us.
Then we were suddenly invited to bring CutTime to Highland Park, not 2 blocks from where I grew up and first fell in love with classical music. Pharaoh's Lounge is a part of Nandi's Knowledge Center, one block from the McGregor Library on Woodward Ave, where I first experienced classical music LIVE. There's no greater pleasure than performing my City of Trees for my home community, which needs so much life right now.
In January CutTime brought Simfonica to Manchester, MI, southwest of Ann Arbor, for a masterclass and concert in a historic blacksmith shop. The full house marveled at the fun and adventure of casual classical, esp. with many listeners joining us on toy percussion. In February we concluded the Knight Project at one of our favorite new venues, Always Brewing coffeehouse in NW Detroit. The Village Quintet was on hand to play parts of Dvorak's American Quintet. We can't wait to return to this growing community center as it grows into a restaurant this year.
Simfonica also played at the N'Namdi Center for Contemporary Art in Midtown with poets Bill Harris, Blk Smith and Julius Hall (below) mixing it up with us. Instrumental music and spoken word add profound meaning to each other. Watch for two events next season we are planning with N'Namdi; one involving dancers!
In April CutTime Players returned to Dearborn in April for a full program in the Henry Ford Estate at Fairlane Manor. The Fair Lane Music Guild has presented CutTime steadily since 1997 with concerts held in the intimate Pool Room. Coincidentally, my father used to sing and play guitar there at an early 70s "student coffeehouse" when he was on staff at U of M Dearborn. My brother David, visiting from Atlanta, added some spice with eggshakers for a work by Duke Ellington.
CutTime represented in New York City recently at a high-level private meeting, to introduce ideas of casual classical and to feedback about building racial diversity for orchestras throughout the state of New York. One invitation for CutTime is developing from this meeting.
This week I'll be speaking at the League of American Orchestras (LAO) annual conference in Baltimore about the Houston composer residency last September with River Oaks Chamber Orchestra. The LAO was a sponsor of that program run by New Music USA. This will be an opportunity to reestablish connections with dozens of orchestras I met with back in 2012, as well as contribute to their conversation about meaningful diversity/inclusion in orchestras.
Friends, in the last year I've applied for and lost perhaps a dozen fellowships, grants, awards and composer competitions. I will keep applying, until I can't lift my arms anymore. In my lifetime, I've won perhaps two dozen opportunities that I did apply for. I quit DSO to take more chances to make a real difference with symphony music presented casually, informatively and inclusively. It is working!
I have never been more open or vulnerable, risking my house, well-being and reputation to cut a new path. Please help me thank the outstanding supporters who continue to stand by CutTime®: Jim and Ann Nicholson, Barbara Van Dusen, Maestro Leonard Slatkin and composer-wife Cindy McTee, Dr. Darrell Looney and Barbara Frankel. There are many others of course, including YOU, who see us thru. Thank you!
Coming up are FREE CutTime Simfonica concerts: July 12 (Tu) noon-2p at Campus Martius, July 13 (W) 7p-9 at Steinway Piano Gallery ($), July 16 (Sa) at Highland Park Music Festival and Aug. 6 at Sidewalks Festival. Check the website Event Calendar for updates.
In mid-August I return to Lake George Music Festival to lead a casual classical event on a lake cruise, as well as the orchestra bass section. September brings an exciting new conference featuring 21st-Century classical musicianship at DePauw University. Simfonica will demonstrate its potential, playing with students.
Thanks again for reading, caring and recommending CutTime to your local institutions. We want to show everyone relevant new ways into classical, and cannot do it without your help. Together we can unite disparate communities with great music.