Highlighted Past Performances

  • Boston Music Theater Workshop
    Marilyn Plotkins and Kim Whitener, Directors
  • 13th Annual New England ADL Black Jewish Seder, at Union United Methodist Church, Boston
  • Home of Dr. James P. Comer, Yale University, New Haven CT.
  • Home of Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr. Harvard University, Cambridge, MA.
  • Home of Harry and Twanette Garvey performed for the late Jackie Onassis, Martha's Vineyard, MA
  • Song excerpt "Preamble" performed for Nelson Mandela at D.C. Sheraton, Afri-Care Benefit
  • Temple Beth Elohim Wellesley, MA. Facilitated by Cantor Jodi Sufferin
  • National Concert Tour to Chicago, Cleveland, Memphis, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Boston, and New York City sponsored by Seth and Beth Klarman for Facing History and Ourselves (Supplemented with a Facing History and Ourselves Teacher's Guide to LWAW)
  • World Off-Broadway Premiere 2007 New York Music Theater Festival.


BIO


Walter Robinson is best recognized for his classic children's song "Harriet Tubman" which has become an American Folk Classic and is sung by children internationally. A native of Philadelphia, Walter Robinson's early music education was enriched by the mentorship of world-renowned, innovative artists who were to leave a lasting impression on his writing. These mentors, widely diverse, included the late E.Y. "Yip" Harburg, who wrote the lyrics to "Over The Rainbow." Harburg told the then teenage Robinson, ' "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" was the greatest song ever written' and encouraged Robinson to tap the rich musical legacy of American Slavery. As a young high school jazz bassist, Robinson was invited by John Coltrane to "sit in" in with him in New York at the Five Spot. At the time Robinson studied bass with Gary Peacock and Jimmy Garrison. His teenage education also included a rare one-on-one harmony session with jazz giant, pianist Bill Evans.


Robinson's twenties began with the opportunity to play bass for James Taylor at the Newport Folk Festival as an acoustic duo, followed by a long stint with Livingston Taylor, both singer-song writers influencing his music. Later, James Taylor asked Robinson if he could produce Robinson's, "Harriet Tubman" for his sister Kate's album. This unique recording, which used James, Miles Davis bassist Ron Carter, and Chicago's famed Jessy Dixon Gospel Singers, forever initialized "Harriet Tubman" to an international legacy.


Robinson graduated with a BA in music and psychology at Temple University and attended the graduate program in composition at the New England Conservatory of Music. Robinson was then Composer-In-Residence at the internationally known W. E. B. Dubois Institute for Afro-American Research, Harvard University for eight years. There he researched and wrote the book, music, and lyrics to a gospel folk opera entitled Look What A Wonder Jesus Has Done. This work won over 21 grants and prizes during development alone. These included coveted grants from the National Endowment of The Arts Composer-Librettist Program and two from the late Leonard Bernstein. Robinson also took research trips to the Georgia Sea Islands where he established a strong relationship with the Black legendary folklorist singer Bessie Jones, an American folk icon, and repository of songs passed down to her by oral tradition from slavery.



Look What A Wonder…and Robinson were featured in TIME magazine.


While at Harvard, Robinson was one of 13 out of 500 applicants chosen to be in Spike Lee's advanced screenplay writing class. There, Robinson completed a screenplay on an obscure Dumas novel, entitled "The Rose of The Black River."


Robinson was a winner of the highly competitive Meet The Composer Residency Award, MB of the largest US grants available directly to composers. The grant funded him for three consecutive years to compose MOSES a gospel narrated concert program which featured "The Ten Commandments," later performed by the Boston Pops Orchestra and the 150-voice Tanglewood Festival Chorus at Symphony Hall, Boston. The Boston premiere of "MOSES" featured a cast of 200 performers and sold out performances at the Cutler Majestic Theater. Bob and Myra Kraft, owners of the New England Patriots, then funded a performance of MOSES excerpts at the Jewish General Assembly in Chicago, also flying Yemin Orde, an Ethiopian Children's Choir from Israel to sing Robinson's songs with the Black Chicago gospel children's choir, "The Soul Children." Later, MOSES excerpts were performed in New York at Congregation Rodeph Shalom and at The Museum of Jewish Heritage. Walter Robinson and "MOSES" were featured in a Boston Sunday Globe front-page article, The New York Times and in American Theater Magazine.


Robinson was commissioned and composed a chamber orchestra choral work for the grand opening of the Mary Baker Eddy Library, Boston, entitled "The Time For Thinkers Has Come." He was then appointed to a three-year Artist-In-Residency at the Library. Over the residency Robinson began to conceive MB as a hip-hop dance musical. Through the Library, he was introduced to actor, Val Kilmer, who helped him to further conceptualize MB by recording experimental voice-over narrations. Kilmer personally introduced Robinson to Jeffery Katzenberg who also supported MB .


Robinson currently enjoys an dual artist-in-residency in Chilmark MA Martha's Vineyard and in Hudson, NY while he prepares his two musicals for Broadway opportunities. Look What A Wonder will have its preview Oct 21 and 24 at St Mark’s in the Bowery and MOSES will preview Nov 18 in Boston at The Strand Theatre.













Walter Robinson