Marcus Roberts opens the gates of Troy
As seen in the Summer 2016 edition of the Steinway Chronicle
Photos: Mark Moseley
TROY, AL – Sitting behind the smooth, flawless keys at one of Troy University’s new Steinway pianos, Marcus Roberts gently smiles as the jazz ensemble winds things down with a Big Band refrain.
The modern virtuoso always seemed destined for a lifetime of intriguing experiences at the piano, starting with Wynton Marsalis and later at the helm of his own groundbreaking jazz trio.
Serving as keynote speaker at Troy’s Helen Keller Lecture Series on March 1, Roberts was thrilled to chat and jam with a most appreciative audience. Training young musicians comes naturally as a faculty member at Florida State University, where the Jacksonville native studied classical piano with fellow Steinway Artist Leonidas Lipovetsky. He is a graduate of the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind in St. Augustine, joining Ray Charles on a gifted list of alumni.
Along the path of building a career, he stressed the importance of finding strong mentors. “Guidance and direction are critical components in becoming a success-ful artist,” Roberts told the group. “When I was a student, I never had the chance to work with (seasoned artists) which is why I do it. It establishes where the level is and where you need to go, and it helps that you don’t have to figure out everything by yourself.”
He has the distinction of being Troy’s first visiting Steinway Artist since the university became an All-Steinway School. The university’s own Steinway Artist Dr. Hui-Ting Yang headlined the initial concert series in 2015.
“Marcus Roberts may have lost his sight at the age of five, but he certainly didn’t lose his vision,” said Troy Chancellor Dr. Jack Hawkins, Jr. “Our students have a lot to gainfrom his story of determination and his incredible talent. We’re thankful to be a part of such a dynamic Steinway family.
”With 29 Steinway pianos gracing the Troy campus through the impeccable efforts of Jon McClaran, Brandon Herrenbruck and Bill Metcalfe at the Alabama Piano Gallery, Roberts believes Troy’s new partnership with Steinway & Sons speaks volumes about the education students receive at the Long School of Music.
“I think being an All-Steinway School says Troy is committed to giving its students quality experiences,” he said. “Most students don’t get the chance to learn on Steinways. It’s a very special thing. I think Dr. Hawkins has done an excellent job at providing diversity among the student body and within the experiences they have here. He’s got an inclusive approach to the whole program.”
Later that evening, the people of Troy experienced something special as Roberts took command of the university‘s treasured Steinway Model D concert grand for what many considered a near mythical performance.