The Finale Encore - Farewell to Dr. Gary Robinson, Conductor, Greenville County Youth Orchestra
This week is a culmination of 30 years of dedicated service for Dr. Gary Robinson, who will step down with mixed emotions from his position as conductor of the Greenville County Youth Orchestra.
“The Youth Orchestra has been one of the defining assignments in my professional life,” said Robinson. “And I leave it wistfully. I hope it will be taken over by new, fresh talent who, like me entering in my early 30s, will have long horizons, great energy, and great creativity to take the orchestra to levels yet not achieved.”
While he is leaving role of GCYO conductor, Robinson says he plans to continue teaching at the Fine Arts Center because it is something he loves. “Part of the enjoyment of teaching is the opportunity to instruct a student over multiple years,” he said. “Not only do I get to teach the information, but I also see in the student possibilities for someone to achieve, someone who has confidence in themselves, and for someone who is able to take projects, both short and long term, and figure out how they can meet the challenges of those assignments and to grow in achieving them.”
Many students in Robinson’s Fine Arts Center classroom are also members of the Youth Orchestra, which gives him the advantage of seeing students grow intellectually and socially over time. “The orchestra program has a tremendous sense of community and esprit de corps. Students leave the orchestra program with a great sense of pride and shared unity and will stay with us for many, many years. I’m currently working with second-generation of youth orchestra students, children of kids who I worked with in the 1980s and 90s. It’s a very, very strong community,” said Robinson.
The classroom studies and the orchestral studies have a certain amount of overlap, he said. “Here in the classroom, achievement is based upon individual hard work, individual setting of goals, and also the reliance upon tried and true materials that have been developed over the years of the art form,” Robinson explained. “Likewise, students in the orchestra play full symphonic works. Many youth orchestras play only movements, but we feel that the true full artistic experience only takes place when a student can see that entire arc of the composer’s conception.”
In his spare time, Robinson is a professional performer with the Greenville Symphony Orchestra. “I am a section percussionist, which means I do whatever they ask me to do. Throughout my career I’ve also been a timpanist and played in many orchestras in our region. All of these performing opportunities have helped me maintain a 30-year career which is a little unusual. I’m really proud of that,” he added.
It is obvious that Robinson takes great pride in every aspect of his work. “It is a distinct privilege to work with Greenville County Schools, to continue to work with Greenville County Schools, to be a member of the finest Fine Arts high school in the Southeast, and to have conducted the finest youth orchestra in the region,” he said.