Bill Robinson steps down from the podium to play a little bit
By Steve Wildsmith (email@example.com)
Starting next month, Bill Robinson will once again step to the podium and put students through the rigorous exercise of musical performance.
He’ll continue his role as director of the Orchestra at Maryville College, and after years conducting the orchestras at Maryville High and Maryville Intermediate schools, he’ll be launching the inaugural orchestra at the new Coulter Grove Intermediate School.
Obviously, he’ll be a very busy man. Which makes Saturday night’s performance at the Clayton Center for the Arts on the Maryville College campus, by the string quartet that bears his name, all the sweeter.
“Ass of us are teachers in some way, and this gives us a chance to see from the students’ perspective the stress of preparation of getting a concert together,” Robinson told The Daily Times this week. “Normally, I’m worried about getting my students to a certain level of performance. Now I’m working to get my own level to a point where people want to hear it.
“This is an extra outlet for us. We push each other individually and advance our skills, and it gets us back to when we once enjoyed playing when we were younger, those days when we practiced for hours with other students and friends learning string quartet literature. We all became teachers because at some point we realized that we enjoyed playing so much, we wanted to do it for the rest of our lives and share it with other people. This concert is a way of sharing that with friends and the audience, and not just our students.”
The Bill Robinson String Quartet includes Maryville resident and cellist Sarah Cline, who’s performed with the Knoxville Symphony, the Oak Ridge Symphony and the Orchestra at Maryville College, as well as having served as an adjunct professor at both Tennessee Tech and Maryville College; Orchestra at Maryville College, KSO and Oak Ridge Symphony veteran Christy Graffeo, an employee of Blount Memorial Hospital who teaches viola lessons in Knoxville and Maryville and at the Joy of Music School; and Allyson Finck on the second violin, who recently completed her first year as orchestra director at Maryville Middle School.
Robinson himself, who will play first violin, will enter his 35th year as an orchestra director for the Maryville City Schools system.
“As a teacher, you sacrifice the time you have to focus on your own musical skills for the sake of training others in their skills,” he said. “It’s not like we’re performers who can sit and practice for six or eight hours a day; our focus is bringing the younger students along, but it is fun to get to use our own skills. This particular concert started because we wanted to get together and perform some this summer, when we have more time to practice.”
The quartet will bring a touch of classical and popular music to the Clayton Center’s Summer Music Series, with selections from Dvorak, Haydn, Bach and Vivaldi during the first half of the concert, followed by tangos, Latin-American dance music and selections from the Beach Boys, the Beatles and The Turtles during the show’s second half.
“We’ve really enjoyed spending time on this as a quartet, and I think the audience will like what we’re doing,” he said. “The first half will be more serious, standard string-quartet literature, and the second half is lighter and more easily accessible in a way that anyone can easily relate to.”