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Lethbridge Herald Newspaper Archives

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Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - October 25, 1972, Lethbridge, Alberta 44 1HE lETHBRIDGE UtRAlD Wednesday, Oclohor 25, I97J Toronto musician finds 'niche in world of music By VICTOR ST'AMDN TORONTO (Cl'l Urn-don Robinson found his "niche in the world of music" 20 years i ago. 11 came about while Hie To- roll to-hum musician was watching Ilic 1932 New Day Rose Bowl game on tele- vision Tit his Los Angeles home. "I'll never forget it." Robin- son said in on interview. "The phone rings ami it's a friend o( mine calling lo say he had played a dance the previous night and met a man who was looking tor an arran- ger for a piano player wlui was going to start a television show. "He told me the piano play- er'; name and I didn't even know him." The piano player was Liber- ace. "A couple days later we met and framed and built thul first television show. "He was given four shows to make it in Los Angeles without a sponsor on the worst television station in the city. Alter the second show, the biggest bank chain in Los Angeles bought it and t sat on the sidelines and watched this thing develop over the years from absolutely nothing to a storybook showbiz story anil I've" been part of it ever since and it's been marvellous." As well as arranging music for the orchestra that plays behind Liberace, Robinson has conducted Ihc orchestra- tion for all of the pianist's tel- evision and personal appear- ance shows for the last two decades. l.IHKUACi; TRUSTS HIM "I know I could have never [omul a more favorable niche in the world of music than the one 1 have for many, many reasons. "My style of thinking in music just fits exactly and Liberace liiniself trusts me thoroughly. He never ques- tions anything I do. I have many friends who are. in a comparable position and life is pretty dif- ferences of opinion. I have none of that." Robinson, whose family moved to the United States when he was a toy of !2 or 13, works only for Liberace, a six-months-a-year job that al- lows him half a year to catcli up on (he work around the home and social activities tliat arc neglected during eon- cert tours and nightclub and. television engagements. A master of many instru- ments, Robinson's talents us a piano player were first devel- oped in Toronto where his father worked as a piano mover. "I mvst have been maybe seven years old. 1 used to love to go into the ukmo warehouse where they had maybe 100 pi- anos being stored and I used to try to play these pianos. "Perhaps father noticed this, I don't know, but he and my mother scrimped and sn'vcti and bought me a real cheap piano and gave me les- sons, but I wasn't too inter- ested. "I liked to play the piano when t could play things 1 wanted lo play by car, but I didn't like practising the exer- cises and the usual repertoire that the young students gel." FORMED OKCHESTKA When he started high school In Eric, Pa., he formed an orchestra "and had reasona- ble success wilh it." At this time, he also stalled playing the base violin. "I was in school assembly r.ne day and the principal said they had some, he called them contra-bases, they had just purchased and anyone in- terested in learning how I play them come to his office. "I had no idea what the in- strument was, so why 1 went I'll never know. The principal told me to come to the school lext Saturday morning and lo ought 1 was nuts." His base violin playing helped win Mm a scholarship I to Louisiana Stale University. Robinson graduated with a doctorate in music and stayed on as a professor and assist- ant orchestra conductor. DRAFTED INTO AlillV '''hen he was drafted into Hie army in the Second World Wai-, but he didn't get away from music. "I was a skinny they wouldn't let me into anything but the band. "At this timo I considered myself a pianist, but the bandmaster said they couldn't vso a pianist, so I said to him: 'Well, what do you need in the He said: 'We need a French horn player.' I said I played French horn. I left him and got on the phone lo my wife to send me French horn hook. Two days later 1 was playing it in the baud." Today, when in tour, he can tit in his hole! loom and writo down the complete orchestra- tion for a show without the aid of a single instrument. "I don't need a piano. I hear it all. So I waste no time. You get involved if you have a piano -around and you start trying to something." While mi tour, he gets up at a.m. and works until 4 in [he afternoon, "doing some- thing in and then gets ready lo do the show. "The big thing in my life is challenges. I've got lo have this. Everything I do is a big deal." 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