Robison ’16: Piano Paragon

pianoEvan Robison ’16 and Celina Lin ’16 captivated the community during last week’s all-school meeting when they premiered Robison’s newly composed classical piece for two, titled A Perfect Breeze.  Not surprisingly, the crowd was enthralled, and Robison and Lin both received standing ovations for their performance. However, it was the comments made by Ms. Alysoun Kegel, Choate’s choral director and Robison’s mentor, following their performance that held the most awe; the piece was performed, composed and managed by Robison himself.

Since his freshman year, Robison has been a musical force on campus: he plays the piano, sings in chorus, embarked on an independent composition project with his friends during the winter term of his junior year, and is the current president of the all-male a cappella group The Maiyeros. When asked about his interest in music, Robison explained that he came from a musically oriented family: “I probably owe it to my family and my genes,” he laughs. “My grandfather is a very good jazz pianist, and my dad is always playing music in our house.”

In fact, Robison grew up with music: “As I was growing up, I found out that I had good pitch, so I joined chorus,” he explains. He began to discover his love for music, so he picked up the piano at age 4, started writing songs at age 6, began trombone in the 4th grade, and started guitar in 7th.

In terms of songwriting, Robison explains that as a child, he, his father, and his sister would write fun, whacky songs, and because of this, he started to fall in love with songwriting. This deep-seeded interest in composition followed him to Choate; last year, Robison and two friends, Linds Cadwell ’16 and Maxwell Kops ’16, embarked on a winter term independent composition project. The trio—called ELM after their first initials—wrote alternative and rock songs, which they recorded and posted onto their YouTube channel. Robison reflects on the experience, “We all compromised a little bit during that process. I gravitated towards classical, but because of the instruments we had (my voice and keyboard, Linds’ guitar and bass, and Max’s drums), we couldn’t go classical.”

After seeing Robison’s dedication to the arts, Ms. Kegel recommended that he attend the Walden School, a five-week summer program for young musicians. The program is dedicated to songwriting, and there Robison was able to explore his interest in classical music, as professional musicians who specialized in classical instruments would visit to play the students’ pieces. “We had a world class trumpeter play one of my pieces. It was amazing,” says Robison.

Near the end of the five-week period, Robison was given the daunting project of taking on the piano parts of several pieces composed over the summer. He explains, “There was a great pianist who was there for the first two weeks, but she had to go do an exhibition in Israel. So the burden of playing the newly composed piano pieces had to be divvied up among the students. I ended up playing in twelve different pieces that students wrote.” Because of this, Robison won the camp’s most prestigious award, the Walden Player’s Award.

Ms. Kegel shared that she was especially moved by the caring way Robison interacted with much younger musicians, as well as by the leadership he showed in a large and diverse musical community.  Keep an eye out for this musical wonder and inspiring Choate student—at this rate, he’ll go on to do big things.

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