On the heels of success with CutTime Players (CTP), Rick Robinson miraculously began composing in 1999 following a vivid dream. The resulting work for full orchestra, Essay After Sibelius, was premiered by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra (DSO) in 2006. Only then did Robinson attempt to write more music… and develop another versatile touring ensemble which complement both CutTime Players and all orchestras.
Robinson chose a string sextet of 2 violins, 2 violas, cello and bass, and composed a 5-movement neo-romantic work in the Viennese school called Mighty Love (2007).
The next six works formed the Gitcha Groove On! suite (2008-09). This begins with two deeply romantic works for solo English horn and solo oboe, while the later movements cleverly blend familiar urban pop grooves with optional percussion, forming catchy hooks for new audience to relate and even participate. There are two stirring elegies, one provides contrast in Gitcha, while the other, First Grief (2011), written for his father, completes Robinson’s newfound expressiveness.
Watch these samples from the inaugural performance with these DSO musicians:
Geof Applegate, violin I
Kimberley Kennedy Kaloyanides, violin II
Jim VanValkenburg, viola I
Caroline Coade, viola II
Robert DeMaine, cello
Rick Robinson, bass
2010 was a pivotal year for Robinson. He officially launched CutTime Simfonica® (CTS) in May with DSO principal musicians (video above). The next month he won a $25,000 Kresge Artist Fellowship for composition. Robinson then began adapting several CTP symphonic covers and piano favorites to subsequent programs. In August he launched the string quartet (CSQ) as a budget ensemble playing some of the same rep as Simfonica.
In October the DSO began a labor dispute in the wake of new socio-economic realities. Lasting 6-months, Robinson had lots of free time to confront those realities. His Kresge fellowship funded recording of the first two commercial releases (available on iTunes), plus it facilitated further business training to develop and market CutTime Productions. All of these positioned him to launch the Detroit chapter of the Classical Revolution movement (CRD) in December. At last CutTime had an experimental platform to insert fine art into popular culture, to take classical OFF of the pedestal of the concert hall, to go underground and serve the deserving masses in clubs and cafes. Simfonica nourishes.
If Players is CutTime’s cover band, then Simfonica is its originals band. Both ad hoc touring groups have the purpose of making classical music matter to a much wider community, while still being authentic and inspirational to veterans. Discover what a difference casual classical makes for curious music lovers. All of CutTime’s work validate tonality, rich melody, motivic development and even silence as powerful devices for expression. This seems even more progressive when blended slightly with the folk music of our time, such as urban pop. Simfonica has also collaborated with local hip-hop dancer toupe Hardcore Detroit to showcase the impact of classical styles.
In 2012 CutTime left the DSO and is now touring Simfonica programs with musicians across the country. Music critic Jeffrey Rossman of CVNC wrote of his compositions, “In both of these [Pork 'n Beans and Gitcha Groove On!] I was most impressed with his remarkably fluent and original contrapuntal writing. There was a fully realized, quite complex fugue with a spicy Latin beat by the bass that was the equal of any contemporary fugal writing.”
With this work, CutTime raises the standard for true community reflection.
- Read a list of Simfonica’s repertoire.
Purchase the tracks at iTunes.
Email for a touring/residency proposal and quote.
Watch and share a video about the Gitcha Groove On! album project.
Read more about Rick Robinson on the next page.