High in-demand US conductor Roderick Cox is advocating for a universal right to music. In this 'Innerviews' episode, he explains how he turned his dream into reality, what music means to him personally and to society as a whole.
If you had told him as a child that, one day, he would feel at home on the world’s biggest stages, that he could become a role model able to grant opportunities to others, he wouldn’t have believed you. He would not even have dared to dream it. “Growing up in a single-parent family, where I simply had no way of accessing a classical musical education, I never thought that I could become a professional conductor one day,” recounts Roderick Cox, who was born in the state of Georgia. Against all the odds, the young musician managed to secure his place at the music college in Columbus. “Music found me in the place where I was back then and brought me to where I am today,” he says modestly.
He is keen to pass on his good fortune: for a few years now, he has been helping to support young, talented Afro-Americans through the Roderick Cox Music Initiative, which he set up specifically for this purpose. The organisation provides funding for instruments along with arranging music lessons and intensive summer camps.
Bringing people together
Roderick also feels a great responsibility towards society in his role as a conductor and musician: “Classical music is not just an art form that is supposed to make us feel happy. It should also encourage us to think about social issues, shine a light on inequalities, promote our freedom and bring people together.”
A word about the Elbphilharmonie? “One of the biggest beacons for art in the world” – a nice compliment for the concert hall on the Elbe, which he sees as a real “magnet”. Particularly after the long months of lockdown due to the coronavirus, the young conductor is happy to finally see people flocking into the Elbphilharmonie and sharing concert experiences together again.
On the lookout for encounters
As the winner of the prestigious Sir Georg Solti International Conductors’ Competition, Roderick Cox conquered the great stages of the world a few years ago and has been amongst the most in-demand artists in his field ever since. At the same time, he is constantly looking out for opportunities to engage with other cultures on an artistic and human level: “I believe that encounters of this kind add depth to my musical voice and allow me to say something more meaningful.”
Roderick Cox’s most recent appearance at the Elbphilharmonie happened thanks to the large-scale concert project Song of America: A Celebration of Black Music, which was devoted to Afro-American music culture. The concert, featuring the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, Thomas Hampson and other leading singers, is available on the Elbphilharmonie’s media library until June 2022.