By Andrew Hamlin
NORTHWEST ASIAN WEEKLY
A young violinist who made his professional debut at age 9, and performed with the New York Philharmonic at New York City’s Lincoln Center at age 13, could understandably get called a prodigy, and could quite rightly think of himself as one.
But Randall Goosby, born to a Black father and a Korean mother who grew up in Japan, says that just isn’t how he was raised.
“I never thought of myself as a prodigy,” recalled Goosby, who’s in town to play Mozart with the Seattle Symphony. “In fact, we never even said the word in my house growing up. It was always ‘the p-word.’ There is no best in music. Everyone has something special and unique to them, and I always had an appreciation for that.
“Once I started to seriously pursue music as a career, I was always surrounded by incredibly talented musicians, all of whom could do something or play something that I couldn’t. I have always felt that I have a lot to learn, and a lot of people to learn from, so it never really got into my head that I was moving faster or farther than anyone. Everyone has their own trajectory, both in music and in life.”
Growing up in several American cities, Goosby said it was tough to tell for sure when he became aware of his mixed heritage.
“But as far back as I can remember, I have always had a deep appreciation for both of my cultural halves. I think the greatest influence they had on me is a love for lots of different foods! As far as music goes, I think both my parents instilled in me a sense of soul. All of my favorite artists have that in common: a soulfulness and honesty in their expression.”
As for his mother’s Japanese culture, “Japanese food has been my favorite cuisine since I first visited my family in Japan at age 4. I actually spoke fluent Japanese when I was a kid, as I attended a Japanese Saturday school when my family lived in Philly. Once we moved, I eventually lost my Japanese skills, but I can still understand enough to get the gist of a conversation.
“The biggest day-to-day influences, though, would probably be punctuality and attention to detail, both of which have been very useful in my line of work!”
Having gone all over the world with his music, Goosby’s picked up some globetrotting views on classic music in Asia, versus the United States.
“In general, I think there’s an excitement and a passion for classical music in Asia that doesn’t really exist in the U.S. When I performed in Korea, the line for the CD signing after the concert seemed to go on forever. That being said, I think the issues of diversity, representation, and inclusivity are more of a priority here in the U.S., which I appreciate tremendously.”
Goosby also owes his current instrument to an Asian connection.
“The Samsung Foundation of Culture of Korea selected me as a recipient of a beautiful Stradivarius, made in 1708. I’m not entirely sure what the process and criteria are for selection, but I know it has something to do with my playing and the fact that I am of Korean heritage. I am eternally grateful to the Foundation for entrusting me with such a fine instrument, which has opened up a whole new world of possibility for me in terms of colors, textures, and quality of sound.”
This engagement marks his first visit to Seattle. He hopes to visit the Space Needle, and enjoy great seafood.
“From what I’ve heard about the weather, it may have been ill-advised to bring my golf clubs, but I don’t go anywhere without them! Fingers crossed I’ll be able to get out for a range session or a quick round.”
As to his future plans, “All I know is what’s already in the schedule, which is filling up fast! Lots of exciting performances are coming up, including concertos, recitals, chamber music with my quartet, the Renaissance Quartet, as well as other chamber music projects. I’m also in the process of planning for my next album with Decca Classics.
“Would be nice to get my handicap down a few strokes this year, too!”
Randall Goosby performs Mozart’s “Violin Concerto No. 3” with the Seattle Symphony Orchestra Feb. 8-10 at Benaroya Hall, 200 University Street in downtown Seattle.
For prices, showtimes, and other information, visit https://www.seattlesymphony.org/en/concerttickets/calendar/2023-2024/23sub10.