Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Rick Robinson: 'We can STILL put it on a pedestal at Orchestra Hall. But we need to have FUN with it too'

[Rick Robinson]

David Robinson writes to AfriClassical:
Here is a link to an article/interview involving my brother, Rick Robinson of the Detroit Symphony:
David E. Robinson, III

“Creative Destruction
January 9, 2011
Rick Robinson is a bassist in the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. Educated at Interlochen Arts Academy, Cleveland Institute of Music and the New England Conservatory, he is deeply committed to making a difference in classical music, which he refers to as CLAM. He has created Cut Time Productions and several ensembles as a vehicle for bringing classical music to new audiences and proving its continued relevance. He's a whirlwind of energy and positive viewpoints, as well as being a fine musician and recognized composer. I wanted Rick to answer a few questions for this blog, since his views might spark some lively discussion, and he agreed.

John Thomas Dodson: Rick, in addition to your life as a professional orchestral musician, you compose, create opportunities for amateur musicians to experience music together, and even run small chamber ensembles. Why? What drives you?

Rick Robinson: What drives me is a burning desire to be of practical use while I'm alive. Life is short, especially when it has been as blessed as mine! Classical music is clearly very empowering for us who love it. I recognize and struggle with the idea that the vast majority in America don't recognize any VALUE to hearing classical music (clam). If we could reduce that alienation, I would be very happy serving that mission! If life tells you to be a bridge, be a bridge!

By and large, besides the reduction of music education in public schools, I attribute this alienation to the counter-cultural revolution of the 1960s, in which clam was closely associated with the ruling classes and conservative figures. The counter-culture, by definition, rejected everything traditional and thankfully developed many wildly imaginative new art forms and freedom of self-expression. Of course the explosion of technology also enabled a growing rift between cultures and art forms. Clam was stigmatized as cold, inflexible and "old school".

JTD: You've taken music to all kinds of unusual settings. Why?

RR: As a black man I believe I'm in a unique position to make a case FOR clam as universal, relevant and HUMBLE. We shouldn't be afraid to be populist, playing in nightclubs, cafes and restaurants... places where people feel relaxed, can talk, drink, eat and laugh. The law of averages tells me that HALF will tune us out if we're there... but the other half will LISTEN and perhaps become more OPEN to clam's value in the future. We can STILL put it on a pedestal at Orchestra Hall. But we need to have FUN with it too, around people who didn't realize it COULD be fun or personal! What a difference we can make!”

No comments: