Saturday, April 11, 2015

Rick Robinson: We have been a big hit in thrice as many public and private concerts (16) over this period last year, introducing classical music with passion and beat

 Art Museum Septet in Youngstown

Rick Robinson ("Mr. CutTime")

Rick Robinson's CutTime News:

April 8, 2015

Dear Friend,     

CutTime® starts spring on a warm note, even if not the warm temperatures we want. We have been a big hit in thrice as many public and private concerts (16) over this period last year, introducing classical music with passion and beat, plus new arrangements of Beethoven Pastorale and Mozart's Rondo alla Turca. In the process of making classical music more joyous and profound, we've won many new friends in our mission of inclusivity.

I always appreciate when a presenter prefers the original sextet of Simfonica over the budget quartet: it's both richer and less taxing. That's what the Carr Center wanted, and we brought it, as well as to The Yellow Barn in Ann Arbor and to Bloomfield Hills for Birmingham Musicale for this videotaped set you can watch here. There's nothing like seeing audience faces light up at the beginning of Pork 'n Beans!

Next, CutTime went back to Cleveland for an intense week of Classical Revolution events at Happy Dogs east AND west. The Cleveland Orchestra Bass Quartet opened for us, and so several orchestra members and some marketing staff got to sample the potential of CutTime for the first time. Then we had a radio concert and interview on WCPN that you can hear here.

The next week saw challenging Classical Revolution Detroit events (CRD) in new venues for us, thanks to the Knight Arts Challenge grant to expand. Simfonica (strings + percussion) acts as the house band for the series, inviting a guest ensemble to the 3-hour events for the middle set. We had a 2-hour "quickie" at Motor City Brewing Works in Midtown, and then a full event at St. Cece's in Corktown with Mistral Winds. These proved problematic since they were too small for the amp system, and yet no one could hear the introductions. So we need a personal monitor for smaller venues.

I was introduced last month to a young woman who, among other things, does lots of "street marketing" for bands and events. It quickly became obvious she knew the pulse and hangouts of Detroit's hip young adults, so we hired her for Knight project events and she's already delivered our best turnout ever at the Lager House last month with cool posters/flyers, distribution, social media and word of mouth. Now we need a similar person for when we go to black venues.

Simfonica also introduced strings and classical to about 50 black families at the Charles Wright Museum one Saturday afternoon. Kids and parents were engaged to participate with us using all the toy percussion instruments the museum has, and even to try small violins our Leslie DeShazor had brought. People took three dozen brochures for the MSU Community Music School! We hope they'll see a bump in students.

And last week I took CutTime to art museums in Youngstown and Toledo Ohio. The new team of players (septet above) in Youngstown were overjoyed by the richness of the music, and the high school students and families we played for seemed delighted that classical could actually be a very cool thing to enjoy, if not to do. Families were encouraged to sit very close and even play percussion with us for a short march. A Detroit-based team (quintet) met me at the Toledo Art Museum's cloister room, where food and drinks could also be served. The mostly older audience listened and even asked us to turn off the amp system for the great acoustics. We were very happy to oblige.

Upcoming public events are listed here. My favorites are Art X Detroit tomorrow, Northside Tavern in Cincinnati this Sunday, a return to St. Cece's Detroit April 20 and Lager House May 20. Meanwhile, we're submitting major funding applications with both established and potential new partners, are planning a series of appearances with the Beethoven impersonator (Emmon Scott), new compositions and searching for last minute summer gigs that actually pay.

Whenever I look back, or I'm asked if I don't miss the "safe harbor" of DSO, I acknowledge that the road has been rockier than I imagined: even scary at times! But I remain completely confident that our work, arrangements and compositions will be deeply appreciated... perhaps much more in the future than in the present. I have come to appreciate that I can't do this without REAL friends helping with a meal, an expense or recommending CutTime to their community. Please join with CutTime and feel proud!

We hope to see you soon.

- Rick Robinson

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