Lahaina Concerts Feature Cutting-Edge Music

Lahaina News, January 1990

By Lorelei Bode

Michael Robinson visiting Hobbit-land in Maui

This was the first published writing about the music of Michael Robinson. The photo accompanying the article did not reproduce well, so the above image was substituted.

West Maui residents and guests are in for a unique experience this month, when composer/performer Michael Robinson presents two free concerts of his innovative musical compositions in Lahaina.

The two performances at Malu-ulu-olele Cultural Center (West Maui Cultural Center) will feature 15 of his most recent compositions written on Maui, as well as some of his earlier pieces.

Presented as part of "Friday Night is Art Night" in Lahaina, the "Music From the Sun" concerts will be held in January 12 and 26 starting at 7:30 p.m.

Robinson uses an array of computers and synthesizers to create music that defies categorization.

Quite different from most "computer music", "New Age music" or "synthesizer music", his style uses elements drawn from German/Austrian, North Indian, African, jazz, and rock music, to create an entirely new genre of music.

For Robinson, "computer synthesizers are a sensitive medium for exploring a wide open area between the physical and metaphysical worlds which sometimes seems rather unique to music."

"Their expressive qualities have something of the "benign indifference of the universe," he said. "I just like the way they sound.”

Although Robinson uses elements derived from many musical styles, he does not create within any particular format.

The pieces range in duration from a few minutes to nearly an hour; all are strictly instrumental. Each composition is a new experience of the possibilities of creation with sound.

Since Robinson does not compose using any set of rules as to what constitutes a “song”; each piece provides a fresh look at what can be created using an aural medium.

With synthesizers, sounds are produced by various types of musical instruments from cultures around the world.

Robinson is one of the individuals currently using the resources of technology and information to create sound combinations which stretch the boundaries of the definition of music.

Like the innovators of the past, he leaves behind all previously created forms and has produced something truly fresh and exciting.

A prolific composer, Robinson has completed over 155 compositions for computer synthesizers in an extraordinary range of moods and styles.

During his early years, Robinson trained under some of the best.

A native of New York City, he studied improvisation and saxophone with jazz masters Phil Woods, Lee Konitz and Ken McIntyre.

He [attended conducting classes, rehearsals and performances led by] Leonard Bernstein and was a student of musical innovators John Cage, Morton Feldman, and Steve Reich.

Starting in 1985, Robinson began to present his computer synthesizer compositions in 16 solo concerts in New York at places such as La Mama La Galleria, [Saint Peter's Church, Washington Square Church, the New York Public Library], S.I.R. and Hunter College.

He also presented his compositions on live radio broadcasts, on WNYC FM, WKCR FM, and WBAI FM.

This past summer, after moving to Maui, Robinson gave 3 solo concerts at the Church of Saint John in Kula. For the holiday season, he presented a three-part series of performances at Seabury Hall, "Charcoal Notes," during December.

Contributions from the Lahaina concerts will be donated to the West Maui Cultural Council.

Cultual Center is located at 562-A Front Street, next to the tennis courts. For more information, call 669-7407.