Violinist Goosby makes the most of his post-pandemic moment



It has been a good year for 25-year-old violinist Randall Goosby, who gives a recital on Sunday December 5th at St. James Place in Great Barrington. In June, Decca released their debut recording “Roots,” a delightful collection of works inspired by African American culture that beautifully showcases the fresh, mellow quality of his playing. Also in early summer, Goosby is appeared on the COVID-era television production of the annual Kennedy Center Honors. Among his many recent concerts, he has performed with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and conductor Gustavo Dudamel at the Hollywood Bowl.

“I didn’t expect things to start exploding during the pandemic. Like so many friends and colleagues, I was at home putting virtual concerts online. But Decca had been looking for me for about a year and a half, ”Goosby explains.

In the aftermath of the pandemic shutdowns and in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests, classical music institutions across the country have struggled to re-emphasize black musicians and composers. It was a moment made for Goosby, a talent with stellar credentials, having studied since 2015 with Itzhak Perlman at Juilliard.

“After a summer of zooming in and trying to tell the difference behind our computers and feeling a little lost, it was great to have a more meaningful impact on the times and the movement as well as the culture. classical music. Decca arrived at the right time, ”Goosby explains.

That says something about Goosby’s goal, that he wanted his first recording to have a social impact. Advocacy is a big part of Goosby’s goal as an artist. This shines through in his thoughtful programming of music by black composers and his active dedication to the next generation. A regular part of her schedule has been awareness raising events, especially informal performances in schools.

“I was always very nervous when I was a young boy playing classical music, which is very far from a cool thing to do,” recalls the violinist. “That’s why I was so surprised to go to schools and see big eyes and open mouths. The students were completely fascinated by this art form. This leads me to conclude that there is no inherent disinterest, but simply a lack of access and a lack of sustained interaction with professionals.

Goosby grew up in Memphis, the son of a black father and a Korean mother. Although none of his family members showed any particular flair for music, when their son expressed an interest and aptitude for the violin, nothing could stop his parents from offering him the best training.

“My mother is from Osaka and there is a noticeable difference between music education in Japan and the United States. After initial studies there, Goosby and his mother flew to New York one weekend a month during which he received six hours of lessons from Philippe Quint. It lasted three years.

Among the many awards and accolades bestowed on Goosby – his debut with the New York Philharmonic at the age of 13, winner of Young Concert Artists – he was also the youngest winner in the Sphinx Organization’s concerto competition, which is dedicates to supporting black musicians in classical music. In the following years, he was both a beneficiary and a contributor to the Sphinx programs. At the height of the pandemic, he co-produced and moderated panel discussions on minority participation in the music industry.

About 10 years ago and thanks to the Sphinx programs, Goosby first met Sanford Allen, who was the first black member of the New York Philharmonic, from 1963 to 1979. Allen was for 18 years the artistic director of Clarion Concerts in Columbia County, which is the organization that presents Goosby’s recital in Great Barrington.

In homage to Allen, Goosby will perform “Blues Forms”, a four-movement work for solo violin premiered by Allen in 1972. The composer was Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson, a black composer who died in 2004. Goosby included “Blues Forms” on his new album. disc, but Allen, the song’s dedicatee, got there first. Upon the release of Allen’s performance, one reviewer described the piece as “a deep reverie of the black experience seen through the filter of Paganinist writing.”

“Mr. Allen has been a huge inspiration to me and to other young musicians of color to pursue a life and career in music.” Goosby says. “He was also generous enough to work with me on the piece and give me his direct and personal point of view. “

Two other pieces from the upcoming recital, Fantasies Nos 1 and 2 by Florence Price, are also taken from the “Roots” material. The program will open with Mozart’s Violin Sonata in B flat major, K. 454 and will end with Franck’s Violin Sonata in A major.

The Franck, although massive and stimulating, is a popular choice for virtuoso players. Goosby found it both gratifying and touching, saying, “It’s a beautiful play and I shed a lot of tears about it, mostly with Mr. Perlman, my teacher for 10 years.” Looking at the recital as a whole, Goosby says, “We will experience very different approaches to melody and melodicism. “

Joseph Dalton is a freelance writer based in Troy.

Clarion Concerts presents

Randall Goosby, violin and Zhu Wang, piano

When: 3 p.m. Sunday, December 5

Where: St. James Place, 352 Main Street, Great Barrington, Mass.

Tickets: $ 25 to $ 40 Call (413) 551-9901 or visit:

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