Macon publication The 11th Hour has published an interview with long-time Otis Redding Foundation alumni, Roderick Cox. From the article:
Roderick Cox is a stunningly accomplished, laser-focused musical powerhouse; at age 29, after spending a year as assistant conductor for the Minnesota Orchestra, he was named their associate conductor. (Video footage of his energetic debut – which has been viewed over two and a half million times – can be found on the Minnesota Orchestra’s Facebook page.) This is only the latest achievement in a long list of accolades for the young conductor, who grew up here in Macon and had his innate musical talents nurtured by many in our community, foremost among them Zelma Redding and the Otis Redding Foundation. I recently had the chance to speak with Cox – he’s a thoughtful, thorough conversationalist, and he’s intensely committed to his art form and to working hard to be the best he can be at all times. It’ll be exciting to follow his career.
Roderick had some kind words to say about the Foundation:
I started to think I wanted to go to college to pursue music further, to be a band director. In college you have to have your own instrument vs. using a school instrument, and I didn’t have the funds to buy a French horn, which can cost multiple thousands of dollars. I was a member of the Boys & Girls Club and was competing in their Youth of the Year competition, which taught me a lot about myself, and helped me with public speaking and engaging with others, and they were the ones who connected me with Zelma Redding as a person who would be interested in helping me further my musical endeavors. Zelma agreed to purchase a French horn for me under the stipulation that I sent my college transcripts to her every semester, so before the Otis Redding Foundation was even really established, I was the first person that they started to invest their time in. I was very excited, and now that I had my own professional model horn, there was no excuse for mediocrity. I could practice as much as I could and push myself because I had the equipment that would allow me to achieve my goals.
At that point I went to Valdosta State University to pursue a degree in Music Education. My world continued to expand a bit more, and I discovered I needed to be somewhere else, so I transferred to Columbus State University’s Schwob School of Music when I was a junior. That was a higher level music school that helped me expand and evolve even more. I was taking some conducting courses there and doing independent studies in conducting, and I wanted to see the world a bit more, so that’s when the Otis Redding Foundation sponsored me to go study abroad in Oxford, England. I spent a summer honing my skills, writing, and learning lots of the music of Great Britain while also studying and playing the French horn. I pursued a degree in conducting at Northwestern University – at the time I thought I wanted to be a college professor. It was later in my first year that I decided I wanted to be an orchestral conductor, which was uncharted territory for me. One of my teachers, Victor Yampolsky, pushed me to pursue this. I knew I needed a bit more training from specialized teachers for this new corner I was turning, so I looked to the Otis Redding Foundation for some assistance that allowed me to go study at the International Conducting Workshop in the Czech Republic with Larry Rachleff who teaches at Rice and Don Schleicher who teaches at the University of Illinois. This was fantastic – I got more exposure, and got to conduct my first orchestra, which was very beneficial. Once I graduated from Northwestern, the Otis Redding Foundation allowed me to conduct a free performance at their Evening of Respect, which was quite special because it was my first guest conducting opportunity outside of college. I then went on to win my audition and become Assistant Conductor at the Alabama Symphony, and I wanted to expand myself a little more and get a little more international exposure, so I was honored to be accepted to and compete in the Cadaques conducting competition in Spain. I needed help for that as well, and the Otis Redding Foundation was there for me. Their belief in me, that sort of exposure, that financial and emotional support really pushed me on my path and provided me with the resources I needed to excel and achieve. They set me on the way, and I’ve been able to do most of the rest on my own, but I always feel that they’re in my corner cheering me on, and I’m always appreciative when I can come back and let them know that.
Read more HERE.