We are thrilled to announce that Otis Redding Foundation-supported Roderick Cox, Assistant Conductor of the Minnesota Orchestra, will be returning to Macon to guest conduct the Macon Symphony Orchestra for the second time.
Roderick L. Cox of Macon-Bibb County was given his first musical instrument, a French horn, needed for his success as a music major at Columbus Star University Schwob School of Music, through The Otis Redding Foundation. In 2012, Roderick L. Cox became the Alabama Symphony’s Assistant Conductor. He was the Alabama Symphony Youth Orchestra’s Music Director. Cox has long been supported by the Foundation, since 2005; the relationship began when the Boys and Girls Club of Central Georgia was made aware of the young man’s talents. The Foundation went on to financially support Cox’s studying abroad in Oxford, England and the Czech Republic. Cox has also served as a camp counselor for the Otis Music Camp in 2009, 2011 and 2012.
“It was basically the start of my formal education in music,” said Cox, who graduated with a master’s degree in music with a concentration in conducting from Northwestern University’s Bienen School of Music.
“I’ve basically become a better musician and a better person,” said Cox, whose long-term goal is to become the music director of a major symphony orchestra.
Pathos and Passion
Saturday, August 29, 2015
Guest Conductor • Roderick Cox
The Grand Opera House
Conductor Chat 6:30 • Concert 7:30
In our season opener, Macon native Roderick Cox leads the orchestra in presenting some of the most lovely and enduring music of the classical repertoire. Opening with one of Beethoven’s greatest overtures, the concert will also feature delightful selections from the incidental music written for one of Shakespeare’s boisterous romantic comedies, culminating in Tchaikovsky’s highly personal and turbulent symphonic poem on fate. Join us for an evening of powerful and transformative musical drama as the symphony portrays the unexpected turns in life and love.
For more information or to purchase tickets, call 478-301-5300 or visit www.maconsymphony.com
Source: Otis Redding Foundation
By Anna Mae Kersey
When I was growing up, my parents, in an attempt to give my sister and me a cultural and well-rounded upbringing, would take us to see the symphony every time there was a performance. In order to get two energetic young girls to sit through the hour-and-a-half program of classical music, incentives such as chocolate were employed to encourage our cooperation.
Although. over the years, I developed an appreciation for classical music from my training in piano, harp, violin and opera, attending an orchestral concert felt more like an obligation than something that was freely chosen. Fast-forward a decade later and there I was of my own free will, sans chocolate, at the symphony on a Saturday night.
Why the metamorphosis? While a significant part of the change in outlook is likely due to my classical foundation, nostalgia, and coming-of-age, that is not the only explanation for my being here; the symphony has changed as well. Instead of stagnantly sticking to the classical standards, the Macon Symphony Orchestra has transformed into a multi-media experience. While one can certainly still expect to hear traditional orchestral fare, performances have now started to incorporate a variety of other forms of fine art including Shakespearean actors, ballet dancers, choral ensembles, and a traditional African singing and dancing troupe.
In the production of “Shakespeare in Love” instead of merely hearing Shakespeare-themed compositions, the audience was introduced to the program by the famous opening lines of “Romeo and Juliet”: “Two households both alike in dignity, in fair Verona where we lay our scene…” The Macon Symphony Orchestra then presented the audience with a strikingly different and surprising introduction; the pounding brass and sharp contrasting strings of Prokofiev’s “Montagues and Capulets” from the Romeo and Juliet ballet.
The orchestra, under the direction of Maestro Yaniv Segal, was then joined by two dancers from Steps Dance Studio, Olivia Boyd and Rodney Jones. The duo provided an interesting and non-traditional interpretation of the piece, changing what is normally a full-company “court dance” during which Romeo meets Juliet for the first time, into an intense pas de deux. The orchestra then went on to play Warbeck’s “Shakespeare in Love Suite” from the film of the same name, Bernstein’s playful “Symphonic Dances” from West Side Story, Tchaikovsky’s “Romeo and Juliet Overture Fantasy”, and were rejoined by the dancers for the final piece, Prokofiev’s poignantly beautiful “Romeo at the Tomb of Juliet.” Segal’s style of conducting was precise and masterful, and under his baton the orchestra was able to capture the wide-ranging repertoire with remarkable skill and ease.
Interspersed between the musical numbers were the fresh and relatable performances of previous Mercer student, Jake Adams, as Romeo, and graduating Mercer senior, Leah Parris, as Juliet. The two actors, under the direction of Theatre Macon’s Jim Crisp, were able to take some of the most well-known scenes from the play and portray not only the heartbreaking sadness, but also the wit and humor of Shakespeare’s words, maintaining a high level of realness that is so often lost in the usually trite, overdramatic interpretations of the star-crossed lovers. Although the orchestra’s mastery of the material was impressive enough on its own, these performances added additional layers of complexity to the program that made the material more accessible and appealing to a wider audience.
In “MSO Goes Hollywood,” conducted by Macon native and renowned conductor Roderick Cox, the program started with the familiar “A Hollywood Salute” by Wendel, followed by selections from “Star Wars,” “Harry Potter, “The Lord of the Rings,” “Cinema Paradiso,” “Fantasia,” “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” “North by Northwest,” classic Westerns, and “Amistad.” Although the variety that these pieces encompassed was unique and entertaining in and of itself, the music was further enhanced by the performances of the Georgia College University Chorus Select and the traditional African singing and dancing of the Mandala Rainbow Tribe. There was truly something for everyone to enjoy, regardless of one’s personal musical preferences. Cox’s humorous and easy-to-understand remarks about the individual works throughout the evening emphasized that a definitive effort was being made to make the music more accessible and meaningful to the audience.
In a time when popular entertainment has become reduced to reality television and Netflix, one would have expected the symphony performances to be low in attendance, especially with regard to younger audiences. However, at both performances, not only were the majority of the seats filled, they were filled with people of all ages, races, and socioeconomic backgrounds. By making classical music a multi-media experience, the Macon Symphony Orchestra has managed not only to preserve what might otherwise be a dying art form, but has nurtured it and caused it to blossom into something even more magnificent.
Anna Mae Kersey is a journalist working with Art Matters: Engaging the Community through Embedded Arts Journalists, a collaboration between the Macon Arts Alliance and Mercer’s Center for Collaborative Journalism. This project is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts, Art Works. Matching funding provided by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. The journalists in the program will spend time with artists and arts organizations in the Macon area through June, report what they discover, and foster ongoing conversations about the arts in Middle Georgia.
Chances are pretty good that you were first introduced to the joy of music in your home by your mother.
Celebrate that experience with a gift of music this Mother’s Day. Give a special mother in your life a season ticket to the Macon Symphony Orchestra.
MSO Goes Hollywood is the perfect concert for those avid movie lovers. Guest Conductor Roderick Cox leads the MSO in a program of the best cinematic soundtracks in movie history. The night will include blockbuster musical tunes from Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Star Wars and more!
May 3, 2014
Conductor – Roderick Cox
Star Wars: The Phantom Menace
Harry Potter Suite
Night on Bald Mountain (from Disney’s Fantasia)
North by Northwest Prelude
The Cowboys Overture
Lord of the Rings Symphonic Suite
Adagio for Strings (from Platoon)
Dry Your Tears, Afrika (from Amistad)
Featuring the Georgia College University Chorus Select Ensemble and the Mandala Rainbow Tribe
Roderick Cox is assistant conductor of the Alabama Symphony Orchestra and music director of the Alabama Symphony Youth Orchestra. A native of Macon, Georgia, he has been recognized nationally as a gifted young conductor, described as “uncommonly talented” and “extremely musical” by the late James DePreist.
In 2013, Cox was selected as a conducting fellow for the American Academy of Conducting at the Aspen Music Festival where he will work with conductors Robert Spano and Larry Rachleff. He was chosen as the 2012 David Effron Conducting Fellow at the Chautauqua Music Festival in New York where he studied with Timothy Muffitt. Cox was selected as a semi-finalist for the 2013 Bruno Walter National Conductor Preview and for two consecutive summers by Marin Alsop as a conductor to attend the Conductors Guild Conductor/Composer Training Workshop at the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music.
A champion of contemporary music and living composers, Roderick Cox opened the ASO’s award-winning Classical Edge Series in 2013 with new music by Gabriel Kahane and Andrew Norman. “Keeping it all together was ASO Assistant Conductor Roderick Cox,” wrote The Birmingham News. Cox “artfully managed the score’s rhythmic complexities with its orchestral color, energy and reflection.”
The Big O Youth Educational Dream Foundation largely shaped Cox’s music training. He earned his Master of Music degree in conducting from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. His conducting teachers were Mallory Thompson and Victor Yampolsky.
Saturday night’s performance by the Macon Symphony Orchestra, a Knight Arts grantee, was tempered with a bit of sadness. Less than two weeks prior, The Telegraph reported that MSO’s new conductor, Ward Stare, will be leaving at the end of the season. He was hired less than one year ago, so this season will be his first and only as the group’s artistic director. Stare was signed to a three-year contract by the symphony, but both he and MSO retained the ability to opt out of the deal within its first year. Stare filled the conductor and artistic director position that had been vacant for four years, and while the MSO board knew he was a rising star, they didn’t quite realize how fast he was rising.