Rick Robinson, Mr. CutTime

Rick Robinson, Mr. CutTimeRick Robinson, Mr. CutTime, will be a Special Mentor at the 2012 Hot Springs Music Festival.

Rick Robinson plays and writes personally expressive music driven by 22 years of experience as a bassist for the Detroit Symphony Orchestra (DSO). In 2012 he leaves that orchestra to fulfill his artistic potential while drawing new audiences to classical with a pragmatic attitude fully expressed in his CutTimeĀ® brand of established and future symphonic hits.

Born into a musical family in Detroit, Robinson attended the Interlochen Arts Academy, Cleveland Institute of Music and New England Conservatory before being invited without formal audition into the DSO in 1989. A political standoff made national news as the orchestra was pressured to hire more African-American musicians by two state legislators. Since then Robinson has worked hard in and out of the orchestra to prove himself to his colleagues and prove classical music to new audiences.

In 1995 he began CutTime Players, an eight-piece ensemble of DSO members to perform his transcriptions of famous symphonic repertoire for distant communities. He also began publishing these works as CutTime Players Publishing. Then he had a dream which launched a composition for large orchestra that DSO eventually premiered in 2006. This led him to pursue composing for another innovative ensemble, a string sextet with occasional 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 of $25,000 in Detroit in 2010. With them, Robinson, also known as Mr. CutTime, seems to have found the promised land of blending neo-romanticism with the highly-rhythmic urban pop he enjoys dancing to. This is classical music modernized for inexperienced music lovers to taste counterpoint and form with the classical aesthetic of internalization thru a contemporary lingua franca. Musicians are deeply drawn to performing this music for its simple intense expression and what Detroit Free Press music critic Mark Stryker calls fleshy textures. The works draw heavily on Robinson’s multi-cultural musical heritage referencing rock, Latin, bluegrass, tango, Rhythm & Blues, jazz, funk styles and more. Several of these works point to a new style he calls Classical Soul and allow for optional improvisation.

Time will soon tell the impact this music could have on a quickly changing industry in need of such refreshing, accessible and relevant music. Continuing to pioneer the direct pursuit of young audiences, Robinson began the Detroit chapter of the worldwide Classical Revolution movement during the famous DSO strike of 2010. The movement began in San Francisco to organize informal readings and performances in bars, coffeehouses and art galleries to bring classical music to the deserving masses. Here, as before, Mr. CutTime experiments with warming up classical for the curious; letting go of the pursuit for perfection in favor of a personal and raw truth that youth seek in popular music.

Robinson himself is an excellent marriage of old world and new; of the classical past with the Detroit now. Having climbed to the top of his profession, his work for the debut compact disc Gitcha Groove On! is an important journey for classical music from a Viennese-centric art form to the very ground beneath our feet in America.

For more information about Mr. CutTime, visit the CutTime website.

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