Wilkerson, Rob 2

Soloist Spotlight: Rob Wilkerson

Saxophonist Rob Wilkerson is an accomplished leader, composer, ensemble member, and educator. He is a long-standing member of Grammy-nominated ensembles Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society and the Alan Ferber Big Band, and he has performed and recorded with the critically-acclaimed Jihye Lee Orchestra. From 2005 to 2022 he toured the world with Michael Bublé, performing in numerous television appearances and on Grammy and Juno Award-winning albums. As a classical artist, Rob has been a featured soloist with The Chelsea Symphony in NYC and performed Michael Tilson Thomas’s “Four Preludes on Playthings of the Wind” with the Philadelphia Orchestra in 2018. Rob regularly played woodwinds for the Tony Award-winning Avenue Q from 2017-2019 and performs and records with many of NYC’s small and large jazz ensembles. Rob maintains a private woodwinds studio, has worked as an adjunct professor at The Hartt School at University of Hartford since 2018, and is active as a clinician at the high school and university levels. Rob grew up in Albuquerque, NM; lived in Brooklyn, NY for 21 years; and is currently based in Las Vegas, NV. He is a Conn-Selmer and Vandoren performing artist.

On Saturday, January 21, Rob Wilkerson will perform Tableaux de Provence by Paule Maurice with The Chelsea Symphony.

The Chelsea Symphony: Can you share any favorite TCS memories?
Robert Wilkerson: From playing at Symphony Center to performing Rite of Spring with electric guitar I can say every performance with TCS is memorable, but what I really cherish as a saxophonist is the opportunity to perform and grow with all the wonderful musicians/conductors/composers. Just having the luxury of learning and performing so much of the orchestral rep that includes saxophone with the TCS community has meant so much and continues to be inspirational.

TCS: Do you have any pre-performance rituals?
RW: I like to try to have my mind engaged in art as much as possible. This means having all the other pesky things like music learning, reeds, concert dress all exceedingly prepared ahead of time and having a day of balance. It’s a bit of a mind game to keep an “every day” feeling to the performance while rising to the moment with the proper level of excitement!

TCS: What makes this work significant to you?
RW: Famous in the saxophone world, this version with orchestra is rare and it’s such an honor to present an underperformed work by a fantastic woman composer, Paule Maurice.

TCS: What can you tell us about the process of learning a concerto?
RW: For me it all begins with sound, so I try to listen to as many recordings of the piece I can find as well as detailed score study for nuts and bolts dynamics/articulations, etc. Then I try to connect the worlds of composer/performer/listener in a way that feels as honest as possible. I also try to do background reading to inform a better contextual understanding of pieces I play in both classical and jazz traditions. I am especially grateful to Dr. Kendra Wheeler, currently at University of Central Washington, for sharing her dissertation, “Working at the Intersection of Music and Identity to Build Inclusive Communities”; and I also gained helpful insights from the work of Anthony Jon Moore in his Master’s thesis at Florida Atlantic University, “Who is Paule Maurice? Her relative Anonymity and its Consequences.”

TCS: Is there anything else you would like to share about your upcoming solo feature?
RW: Like the Weber Concertino for Clarinet and the Hummel Trumpet Concerto, the phrases of Tableaux de Provence are commonly heard drifting out from university practice rooms all over the world. What’s special for me is this rare opportunity to perform the piece in its intended fully-orchestrated form with such a fantastic group of musicians!


Join us at 8pm on Saturday, January 21st at The DiMenna Center for Classical Music at 450 West 37th Street for Rob’s performance of Maurice’s Tableaux de Provence!