New piano concerto written and premiered by Marcus Roberts in 2016
Commissioned by Seiji Ozawa and the Saito Kinen Orchestra
Marcus Roberts first performed as a soloist with symphony orchestra in 1992 with Maestra Marin Alsop (currently the Musical Director for the Baltimore Symphony). Since that time, Roberts has performed with orchestras all over the world, and frequently with his long-time mentor, Maestro Seiji Ozawa. In 2003, Roberts premiered his ground-breaking arrangement of Gershwin’s “Concerto in F for Piano and Orchestra” with Ozawa in Japan with the New Japan Philharmonic and then in Europe, with the Berlin Philharmonic at their annual Wäldbuhne concert (A Gershwin Night (DVD), EuroArts 2003).
In April of 2013, Roberts premiered his first piano concerto, “Spirit of the Blues: Piano Concerto in C Minor”, with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Maestro Robert Spano. The concerto was dedicated jointly to Maestro Ozawa and the late Martin Luther King, Jr., and was premiered on the anniversary of Dr. King’s assassination, April 4, 2013. The structure of the concerto is informed in its different movements by works of such great composers as Beethoven, Ravel, Prokofiev and Bartok.
In 2014, Roberts and his trio were honored to return to Japan to share the stage Ozawa when he returned after an extended illness. Speaking of his time in Japan, Roberts says, “To see Seiji Ozawa on the stage again and to share that stage with him was one of my happiest moments in a long time. Seiji is such an inspiration to me – he’s a true musical genius and a role model for all of us. To perform under his direction again with one of the greatest symphony orchestras in the world was just an incredible honor.” After that trip to Japan, Roberts was commissioned by Ozawa and the Saito Kinen Orchestra to write a second piano concerto. That piece, entitled “Rhapsody in D for Piano and Orchestra” was premiered at the Ozawa Music Festival in Matsumoto, Japan in August of 2016. Roberts goal in writing both concertos was to use musical form, thematic material, and jazz improvisation to bring jazz and classical music together. To date, the piece has received rave reviews from musicians, audiences, and the press.
REPERTOIRE AVAILABLE (arrangements by Marcus Roberts):
Rhapody in D for Piano and Orchestra (Marcus Roberts)
Rhapody in Blue (George Gershwin)
The ‘I Got Rhythm’ Variations (George Gershwin)
Yamekraw (James P. Johnson)
Concerto in F for Piano and Orchestra (George Gershwin)
Victory Stride (James P. Johnson)
Spirit of the Blues: Piano Concerto in C Minor (Marcus Roberts)