A YOUNG conductor from Macon, Georgia, made his subscription concert debut this weekend, conducting the Minnesota Orchestra in works by greats Debussy, Rachmaninoff and Tchaikovsky.
Roderick Cox’s debut was over three performances between January 19 to 21, 2017, where he led Tchaikovsky’s Fourth Symphony and Rachmaninoff’s Second Piano Concerto, the latter with pianist Joyce Yang.
The 29-year-old was appointed The Minnesota Orchestra’s Associate Conductor in 2016 after completing a two-year tenure as assistant conductor of the Alabama Symphony Orchestra.
“I immediately fell in love with the Orchestra on my first visit back in November 2014, and I knew it was the right place for me to grow artistically and personally,” he said after his appointment. “The Orchestra’s sound is world class, and now I have the honour of calling this ensemble my new musical family, which gives me great satisfaction.”
He will additionally conduct Young People’s Concerts, family programs, special events and outdoor community concerts, while also serving as cover conductor for many classical subscription and Live at Orchestra Hall concert performances. In addition, as associate conductor, Cox will serves as a link to the community, participating in engagement activities, school visits and collaborations with other Minnesota arts and cultural institutions.
Before arriving in Minnesota, Cox served for two years as assistant conductor of the Alabama Symphony Orchestra and music director of the Alabama Symphony Youth Orchestra.
He was awarded the Robert J. Harth Conducting Prize from the Aspen Music Festival in 2013, which led to national recognition and a return to the festival as a fellow. He has also held fellowships with the Chicago Sinfonietta as part of the Project Inclusion program and the Chautauqua Music Festival, where he was a David Effron Conducting Fellow.
Roderick has been recognised nationally as a gifted young conductor, described as “uncommonly talented” and “extremely musical”, but says while he is one of few African American conductor’s in the industry, he is focusing on “purely on the music”.
He told GBP: “I used to spend a lot of time thinking about being an African American male conductor and the expectations to represent a whole group of people as well as any other African American conductor that comes after me. But now I feel that that’s too much noise when you’re trying to work on the podium. It’s best to focus purely on the music and everything else will take care of itself.”
During the 2016-17 season, Roderick will make debut appearances with the Cleveland Orchestra, Santa Fe Symphony Orchestra, and Colour of Music Festival and lead concerts in Washington D.C. for the opening of the Smithsonian National Museum of African-American History.