It’s not very often that we are able to bring a hometown artist to the Jacoby Symphony Hall stage. But on September 28, the Jacksonville Symphony will do just that when we celebrate the start of the 2019-2020 season with pianist Marcus Roberts and his Jazz Trio.
Marcus Roberts lost his sight when he was just 5 years old. He doesn’t have many memories of vision, but does clearly remember how much he loved hearing the sound of a piano. In an interview with Jazztimes, he explains one of the reasons why his fingers were drawn to the keys of a piano.
“Looking back, I think I understand it,” says Roberts, who fell in love with the instrument as a sightless child in Jacksonville. The chords emanating from strings and hammers drew him in. “The first time I heard it, I just couldn’t believe how beautiful it was.”
When he was 10, the budding pianist’s parents sent him to St. Augustine to attend the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind. It was his teacher there, Hubert Foster, who introduced a young Roberts to Bach and Beethoven, expanded his jazz education, and taught him how to read musical scores in braille.
Clearly, Roberts thoroughly embraced his music education. He went on to be a classical music major at Florida State University, and, by the time he was 21, Roberts was invited to tour with Wynton Marsalis.
“When he plays, you feel the spirit of the sanctified church; you are inspired by the complexity of the human mind, and you want to dance,” says Marsalis. “That is Marcus Roberts, genius of modern piano.”
Currently, rather than perform as a solo pianist, Roberts leads a Trio. “In American music,” Roberts explains, “the bass and drums are the foundation of anything. [Bass player] Roland [Guerin] and [drummer] Jason [Marsalis] both have tremendous musical talent and ability beyond just keeping time,” Roberts says of his triomates.
These are the three musical talents that are going to join the Jacksonville Symphony onstage for a fantastic performance of Gershwin’s well-known masterpiece, Rhapsody in Blue. We are so excited to welcome Marcus Roberts and his triomates back to Jacksonville and the Jacoby Symphony Hall stage.