Reginald R. Robinson to perform 'Cultural Harmonies' a ragtime orchestration


Reginald R. Robinson, MacArthur Fellow Genius Award recipient and pianist, will perform “Cultural Harmonies,” a collection of ragtime orchestrations with the River Raisin Ragtime Revenue (R4), Saturday, March 25, at 8 p.m. in Eastern Michigan University’s Pease Auditorium.

Robinson and R4 will collaborate to perform and record new orchestrations of original compositions, selected from over 200 ragtime works by Robinson that utilize traditional ragtime orchestrations and instrumentation while celebrating African-American contributors to the nation’s popular late 19th century music.

“Our orchestra will perform and record 15 new Robinson orchestrations, resulting in the publication of the first major collection of African-American composed and orchestrated ragtime, since the ragtime era,” said William Pemberton, executive director of the River Raisin Ragtime Revenue.

“Cultural Harmonies” is part of a weeklong residency in Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti sponsored by EMU with events that include: A performance and master class in EMU’s Alexander Recital Hall, Thursday, March 23, at noon and a performance and lecture on the connection between ragtime and rap music at the Ann Arbor District Library, March 22 at 7 p.m. Other events include workshops with students in local schools and senior centers and Library and a youth concert at Ann Arbor’s Neutral Zone.

In his role as a music historian, Robinson lectures at colleges across the United States while collecting and preserving historical materials related to ragtime and African-American classical music.

Robinson grew up in urban Chicago where he learned piano by listening to old ragtime records. The self-taught pianist began his professional career in 1992 and began composing music in 1995. According to a press release, “his score for “Each One As She May” was nominated for Best Original Music at the 1995 Joseph Jefferson Awards. He has composed for both television and film, including music for the PBS documentary, “Paper Trail,” and a score for the 1920 silent film, “Within Our Gates.”

Tickets for “Cultural Harmonies” are $25 general admission and $5 for students. They can be purchased at any EMU ticket office, by calling 734-487-2282 or online at

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