Friday, November 6, 2015

Rick Robinson: CutTime Rode Across the South

Rick Robinson and River Oaks Chamber Orchestra at the Continental, Houston

Rick Robinson writes:

Nov. 5, 2015

Hello Friend,      

Happy Fall Season! CutTime and I have more great stories, pictures and links of our adventures to share with you.

We just returned home to Detroit to close out a 4-month roll for CutTime®, of concerts, new arrangements, premieres, orchestras, networking and club classical events across the country. My poor Chevy minivan saw over 10,000 miles in that time. We told you about the Art As A Weapon premiere in July, and the recurring upstate New York trip in the previous newsletter. Here's what we did next.

Two days before Labor Day, we drove 20 hours south to Texas for a New Music USA partnership we won with the River Oaks Chamber Orchestra (ROCO) of Houston. We began rehearsals on the holiday for events as ROCO-CutTime Simfonica® (string quartet + percussion) the next two days. The level of musicianship was quite high and we were able to polish a program of arrangements and compositions to fantastic power! We performed in a classy restaurant, a senior community and a dive bar (pictured above) and made a huge impression! People were astonished symphonic music could be presented so down-to-Earth, intimate and informative. This video by ROCO tells part of the story:

Two weeks later ROCO premiered our new orchestration of Gitcha Groove On! with conductor Andres Cardenes as part of their season opener, and then at a free outdoor concert for a mixed crowd. A preview in the Houston Chronicle, and New Music USA posted our report as a blog last week. We received an archival recording of the premiere.

Between the ROCO services in Houston, CutTime drove to Dallas and finally met our kindred entrepreneurial spirit, violinist Mark Landson, who founded Open Classical. He grew this series in four years from a monthly classical open mic to add two professional series and four branches across Texas! Mark is also a composer/arranger, who believes as we do that people deserve classical music ALSO as an entertainment format. We compared notes late into the night and Mark bought a whole program of CutTime publications for their Halloween concert.

While in Dallas we had a lengthy interview with San Francisco Classical Voice that also posted last week (with a few mistakes). We also met up with some old friends in the Dallas Symphony and made new ones, (with a possible project in March) before heading out to Santa Fe, Albuquerque and some welcome dry air. My old roommates, violist Bill Houston and cellist Joel Becktell, helped us understand the rather complicated and limited classical music scenes in those New Mexico communities, and how CutTime might be able to help.

Taking the scenic southern-most route back towards Houston (driving Interstate-10) let me see some church friends who retired to Las Cruces, some beautiful mountains east of El Paso and stop in Austin for an afternoon. Here we met with Austin Symphony violist Martha Carapetyan and freelance violist Jason Elinoff, the only local musician involved with the only Classical Revolution event so far in Austin. We talked on this sweltering hot day about other startup New Classical efforts in this famous indie music city before we made our way to Beaumont to share ideas and music with old friends Douglas Fair and Chelsea Tipton, who together lead the Southeast Texas Symphony.

We deeply enjoyed our Southern experience, and wanted to stay longer. But some great gigs were waiting in Michigan. The first was subbing into my old position in the Detroit Symphony Orchestra for the opening week! It's been almost three years hearing and seeing the orchestra from the other side, which is the best place for us to understand what changes might draw a massive new audience. But I was delighted to sit in again and contribute to a great orchestra with Leonard Slatkin directing.

The next week wouldn't have been possible if I were still a member of DSO. The small town of Hart, Michigan wanted our mixed octet CutTime Players to play an educational service and an evening concert. So we wrestled up some fine Michigan Opera Theater Orchestra musicians for two rehearsals and a run-through at a Classical Revolution Detroit (CRD) in little St. Cece's Pub in Corktown.  Everyone played musically and had a blast too. Our casual concert in Hart will not soon be forgotten!   

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