Rick Robinson (Mr. CutTime)
Born into a musical family in Detroit, bassist Rick Robinson attended Interlochen Arts Academy, Cleveland Institute of Music then New England Conservatory before being invited without formal audition into the Detroit Symphony Orchestra in 1989. A political standoff made national news as the orchestra was pressured to hire more African-American musicians. Since then Robinson has worked hard in and outside the orchestra to reach new audiences. In 1995 he began CutTime Players, an eight-piece ensemble of DSO members to perform his transcriptions of famous symphonic repertoire.Born into a musical family in Detroit, bassist Rick Robinson attended Interlochen Arts Academy, Cleveland Institute of Music then New England Conservatory before being invited without formal audition into the Detroit Symphony Orchestra in 1989. A political standoff made national news as the orchestra was pressured to hire more African-American musicians. Since then Robinson has worked hard in and outside the orchesta to reach new audiences. In 1995 he began CutTime Players, an eight-piece ensemble of DSO members to perform his transcriptions of famous symphonic repertoire. He soon began publishing these works as well. Then he had a dream that began a composition for large orchestra which DSO premiered in 2006. This led him to pursue compositions for a new string sextet with occassional woodwind solo called CutTime Simfonica.
These works range from "serious but fun" to the "fun but serious"; works that would win him a Kresge Artist Fellowship in Detroit. With them, Robinson (aka Mr. CutTime) seems to have found the promised land of cleverly blending classical convention with the urban pop to inform new audiences to traditional styles. This is classical music "urbanized" for inexperienced music lovers to taste counterpoint and the classical aesthetic of internalization thru a modern lingua franca. Musicians are deeply drawn into performing this music for its intense sexual modularity and what Detroit Free Press music critic Mark Stryker calls "fleshy textures". The works draw heavily on Robinson's multi-cultural musical heritage in the integration of rock, Latin, bluegrass, tango, R&B, gospel, jazz and even funk styles. He refers to several of these works as a new genre called "Classical Soul".
Time will soon tell the impact this music could have on a quickly changing industry in need of relevance. No stranger to being a pioneer in the pursuit of younger audiences, Robinson began the Detroit chapter of the Classical Revolution movement during the famous DSO strike of 2010... a series he maintains today. Here, as before, Mr. CutTime experiments with warming up classical music for the curious, letting go of the need for perfection in favor of a personal and spontaneous truthfulness that youth seek in popular genres.
Robinson's music is an excellent marriage of past and present; of the classical past and the Detroit future and has been called "a modern day Dvorak".
First Grief 2011
Highland Park, MI: City of Trees 2009
Pork 'N Beans 2009
Gitcha Groove On! 2009
Gigue Rondo for solo oboe 2008
Idyll for solo English Horn 2008
Mighty Love String Sextet (5 movements) 2007
Essay No. 1 (After Sibelius) 2004
It's been my greatest challenge and joy to perform, tour and record as a member of the DSO. During 23 years I have performed programs for knowledgeable, loyal audiences. However, as an African-American perhaps, I feel a strong desire to SHARE the kind of music I love with music lovers who AVOID classical music. Everyone deserves the beauty and power of classical... and esp. to understand WHY we would want to continue with this style of music. I have been learning how to articulate the GAME as well as to design programs and educational services that offer a bridge between pop and art cultures.
I began transcribing famous symphonic works for mixed octet in 1994. Once DSO premiered the Essay in 2006, I wondered if I could really complete more compositions. I wrote Mighty Love in 9 months and two years later the Gitcha Groove On album. Throughout this journey I let go of any need to be "original". Never having studied composition I felt no need to please anyone but myself, the musicians playing them and curious music lovers looking for answers to unspoken questions about classical. In that process I discovered ways to bridge musical styles quite naturally with music based on personal experiences. I'm frequently interviewed about my work with Classical Revolution's Detroit chapter.