Feature Cutting-Edge Music
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 composition, each piece provides a fresh look at what can be created using an aural medium.
With synthesizers, the sounds of various types of musical instruments from cultures around the world may be reproduced. 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 Lee Konitz, Phil Woods and Ken McIntyre. He took classes from such musical greats as Leonard Bernstein at The Tanglewood Music Center and studied composition with Leonard Stein and Mel Powell at CalArts. Robinson also had important informal consultations with Morton Feldman, Steve Reich and John Cage.
Starting in 1985, Robinson began to present his computer synthesizer compositions in solo concerts in New York at places, such as La Mama La Galleria, Saint Peter's Church 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 Saint John's Church in Kula. For the holiday season, he presented a three-part series of performances at Seabury Hall, titled "Charcoal Notes", during December.
Contributions from the Lahaina concerts will be donated to the West Maui Cultural Council.
- Loreli Bode, Lahaina News, 1990