Starting with the Sextet for Strings in A-Major (Mighty Love) (2007), Robinson built the Simfonica engine on a middle-rich string sextet of 2 violins, 2 violas, cello & bass. An autobiographical fantasy, Mighty Love is the first five stages of romantic love in strong musical prose. The 50-minute work is programmatic;
a 1st-person movie soundtrack of a bass player who started dating this athlete he met at a club. There’s a ghost, they go dancing, take a 5-mile run, have sex scenes, chase each other ’round the woods and soon start merging a movement before they get engaged and almost break up. Listen to the start of Celebrations, and how it dawns on him he wants to marry her. He pops the question. She teases him, and then they ring their families. And then the arguing starts.
Rhythm and Class
The next suite of compositions form the Gitcha Groove On! album of 2009. This begins with two German-inspired works for solo English horn (Idyll) & solo oboe (Gigue Rondo) with string quintet, based on famous melodies by Mahler and Bach respectively. The Gigue Rondo features a dance groove that musicians could take off on.
This intersection of musical styles was a subtle and natural avenue for Robinson. Recalling how his favorite composers often wrote subtle dances elements into symphonies, he found this street wide open to ride all the way downtown on the title track Gitcha Groove On!.
Next he visited Mexicantown for some spicy-hot Pork ‘n Beans, with cole slaw to cool off. Finally he recalls his strategy to excel in school without getting beat up in Highland Park, MI: City of Trees. This work blended hip-hop, gospel and funk for a gritty statement coming out of the Detroit riots of 1967.
Robinson discovered that grooves not only make ideal contrast to counterpoint, but they also make audience participation possible with toy percussion. Robinson’s music so far references many popular styles, if only in passing: classic rock, funk, blues, jazz, Latin, samba, African, R&B, gospel, funk, hip-hop, reggae, tango, jubilee, juapango, bluegrass and country. These works hold up a mirror to America and prove that classical music is a living art tool that anyone can use.
Sample five works in a short video from the CTS inaugural concert in 2010.