Roderick Cox, Associate Conductor
Sergio A. Mims writes:
I know you and your readers would be interested in this article about up and coming conductor Roderick Cox.
Minneapolis Star Tribune
It had been a long evening at Shiloh Temple International.
Three hours into a “Spirit of the Season” concert featuring the Minnesota Orchestra’s first-ever performance in north Minneapolis, its new associate conductor, Roderick Cox, welcomed the Shiloh Temple Chorus to help close the event with Handel’s “Hallelujah” chorus.
The crowd had diminished, but those who stayed experienced a moment of music singular in its beauty. The urgent passion and throaty call of the 90-voice choir swayed up against the rigorous beats of the orchestra to fuse a new sound: gospel sung on the back of Handel’s rhythms and lyric lines. It shook the room.
And at this confluence stood Cox, a young man feeling his way toward becoming a symbol of unity between two groups — classical musicians and diverse audiences — that hardly ever talk to each other.
“It was one of those surprise moments you couldn’t anticipate,” he said a few days later. “It was a monumental coming together of the two, the chorus and the orchestra. It was hearing the ‘Hallelujah’ chorus like never before.”
Orchestra president Kevin Smith said the Dec. 11 concert was a seminal moment for Cox.
Cox, 29, who grew up in Macon, Ga., makes his subscription-concert debut this week with a program of Tchaikovsky’s Fourth Symphony, Rachmaninoff’s Second Piano Concerto and Debussy’s “Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun.”
There’s a story behind each selection, and Cox will tell you all of them if you let him.
During a November interview at his small, neat condo in Minneapolis’ Warehouse District, he is eloquent, polite, charming — like the best teachers. He also is a good student who speaks with a scholar’s volume of knowledge and an eagerness to know more.
“I just got a book that [Stanislaw] Skrowaczewski sent me on Bruckner Eight,” he said of the orchestra’s former music director, who recently conducted that symphony. “That meant a lot to me. To look at his scores and his markings is so meaningful.”
As associate conductor, Cox leads young people’s concerts and serves as understudy if music director Osmo Vänskä can’t go on.
“Roderick is a very talented young conductor who has all of the potential to become a great maestro,” Vänskä said last week. “I have high hopes for his future. Time will tell.”
At the same time, given his duties with the orchestra’s education initiatives, Cox wears on his broad shoulders an evolving responsibility for building bridges.
“He’s a consummate musician,” said Yvonne Cheek, an orchestra patron and former board member who worked on the Shiloh visit. “He’s not apologetic about his heritage and he’s not apologetic about being a conductor of classical music. He straddles that.”
Roderick Cox with the Minnesota Orchestra
What: The orchestra’s associate conductor makes his subscription-concert debut.
When: 11 a.m. Thu., 8 p.m. Fri.-Sat.
Where: Orchestra Hall, 11th St. & Nicollet Mall, Mpls.