Robert S. Cohen | composer



music theater

wind ensemble

chamber ensemble

percussion ensemble

Artistic Statement

As a composer who has straddled the worlds of both musical theatre and concert music, I feel that the primary role of music is to move people. I believe that music should tell a story whether that story is expressed in a literal or abstract form; to take his audience on an emotional and intellectual journey. The means by which I do this draws on many sources – primarily 20th Century symphonic, choral and theatrical music. I also employ techniques drawn from minimalism and multimedia with my compositional focus on the creation of striking and memorable melodic and harmonic structures within a primarily tonal framework.

Having written a great deal of work to text, I look for a musical approach that both supports the material and, at the same time, takes us to a place beyond the mere words. In theatre, it is the exploration of character and situation; in concert music, it is the creation of a musical poetry which both supports and expands the meaning of the underlying text; often juxtaposing elements of pathos, irony and humor; but always striving for accessibility.

I worry that our current culture has lost sight of the power of originality to communicate and has either relegated music to a support position, or worse, turned to recycling the music of the past without any additional contemporary contextual perspective. To a certain extent our educational system has been remiss in exposing young students to the joys of concert, theatre and jazz forms and too readily given in to the enormous lure of the lowest common denominator in contemporary pop culture. We should not be afraid to expose the young to more sophisticated and powerful forms of art even if the rewards are not immediately evident.

I hope that as my compositional voice excites me it will excite and move others. My greatest joy is when I have affected someone’s perception of themselves or the world around them.