For a Major Debut, a Young Violinist Gets Personal
Jun 26, 2021
By Joshua Barone
The New York Times
In another life, Randall Goosby would have been a pianist.
When offered the opportunity to learn an instrument as a child, he chose the violin but was told he was too small for it. So he started on piano instead. He struggled, and his mother, who had nudged him and his siblings toward lessons in the first place, could see that his self-esteem was beginning to wane.
Then they decided to give the violin another try, and something clicked.
“I would come home from school, and whereas my brother and sister wanted to play, I would throw open the violin case,” Goosby, now 24, recalled in a recent interview. “I was pretty much playing violin all the time.”
He breezed through the first several books of the Suzuki method at a pace that would make an average violin student feel inept. All signs pointed to something more promising than a simple love for a new instrument.
At 13, Goosby became the youngest winner of the Sphinx Competition’s junior division, then was invited to appear in a Young People’s Concert with the New York Philharmonic. It wouldn’t be long before he was a protégé of the legendary violinist Itzhak Perlman. And now, not even done with his education at the Juilliard School, Goosby is making his major label debut with the album “Roots,” released Friday on Decca.
The album, Perlman said in an interview, demonstrates that Goosby “knows who he is, and he wants to make sure everybody does as well.”
It’s not the usual debut. Where many young musicians might make their mark with a war horse concerto by Mendelssohn, Bruch or Beethoven, Goosby instead assembled a sweeping recital program of works by Black composers — including a premiere written by the bassist Xavier Dubois Foley and first recordings of Florence Price discoveries — as well as by Dvorak and Gershwin, two white composers whose music on the album reveals an indebtedness to their Black peers.
“A debut recording has to express the signature of the artist, and that’s exactly what this is, from someone who is a perfect advocate as a performer, but also a perfect advocate as a communicator of what this music means,” said Dominic Fyfe, the director of Decca. “It’s always exciting to see young artists which are right at the beginning of the runway.”