Randall Mitsuo Goosby (Courtesy photo)

Randall Mitsuo Goosby is an extraordinary talent. He’s a virtuoso violinist that defies all the adjectives, but I’ll try and describe his artistry. Goosby’s playing of the violin is masterful and beautifully played. He is truly gifted, and as many others have said, “he plays like an angel with nothing to prove.”

And it’s that part right there that is a fact; he does indeed play like an angel. You must hear him play Florence Price, George Gershwin, Xavier Dubois Foley, and anything, really. We would say he could play the telephone book back in the day, and we would all gleefully listen.

At nine, Goosby made his professional classical music debut with the Jacksonville Symphony. He is a prodigy who graduated from Juilliard and counts Itzhak Pearlman and Catherine Cho as his mentors, teachers, and, most of all, friends. “It has been life-changing to study with them, to know them. They are hugely inspiring, and I am amazed I have them in my life. They have shaped how I go through life and, of course, my music.”

The L.A. Sentinel had the opportunity to speak with Goosby, and here is a recap of that conversation.

LAS:               What made you choose to play the violin?

Goosby:          I started at the will of my Mom. She wanted my siblings and me to

play an instrument and gave us two choices. I chose the violin out of the blue. It called out to me naturally. I began to take lessons, and soon I was coming home, flinging the case open to practice. The violin, for me, was like a kid who comes home and can’t wait to play video games. It was love at first sight.

My mom recognized that I was pretty good at it and ensured I was in the best situation to improve. I have no musical history or background in my family except on my father’s side; he had a great-aunt, a concert pianist, so I guess it took a few generations to make it to me.

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LAS:               Your album “Roots” highlights African American composers. You featured Florence Price, Colenridge-Taylor Perkinson, and William Grant Still. Why was that important to you?

Goosby:          These composers spent their lives giving their blood, sweat, and tears composing music. For more than fifty years, in the case of composer Florence Price, most of her music had been collecting dust, abandoned for years, just lost to the public, and what a tragedy if her music was not played or heard.

But I can tell their stories and highlight their contributions. Classical music has excluded their music from its rich history. For me, music is an exchange of emotions, feelings, and experiences; the more things we can wrap our arms around and bring into classical music, the better.

Classical music has long needed to follow suit and find its way into the modern era to represent all the people it serves. It’s been heavy on my mind, which inspired the creation of my first album “Roots.” And it’s something that I will continue to bring into my future work.

On the album, I stayed true to Mozart, Bach, Beethoven, and all those guys that made me fall in love with music. Now, it’s about not only broadening my horizons but those of the entire listenership and culture of classical music and saying look, there’s a lot more to it than meets the eye.

I believe it’s all our job to continue to discover and share this beautiful music that has not been heard before but has been around for a long time. I’m just blessed to have the opportunity to contribute to this cultural reawakening.


LAS:               You are the face of the next generation of classical artists. A heavy crown to wear?

Goosby:          It’s incredibly humbling. It’s an honor for me to continue the legacy that many other Black classical musicians and other underrepresented musicians, composers, and performers have started. It didn’t start with me.

I think about Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges, a classical composer in the late 18th century, William Grant Still, Florence Price, the first Black woman to have her music performed by a major orchestra, and Colenridge-Taylor Perkinson, and others who paved the way for me.

Now we are at a time and place in history where people are more accepting and curious about different art forms. I want to make classical music and the culture surrounding it more accessible. I’m surrounded by colleagues who have similar viewpoints. How can we translate our skills and training into something relevant, meaningful, and impactful for today’s world.


LAS:               You are performing at the world-renowned Walt Disney Concert Hall with conductor Dalia Stasevska and the Los Angeles Philharmonic on Thursday and Friday, performing the Violin Concerto by Tchaikovsky. What do you hope that the audience will take away from your performance?

Goosby:          The Walt Disney Concert Hall is a legendary fixture in the world, and this is my first time performing there. Tchaikovsky is a massive piece that is difficult, descriptive, detailed, and expressive. A lot emotionally happens in the music, and it can take over in a beautiful way. I hope they go on a journey with me.

Playing with this incredible conductor Dalia Stasevska and the storied LA Philharmonic is an honor. To evoke in people experiences, emotions, and memories is something beautiful. That’s a big part of the magic of music in general, especially in classical music for me. It’s an entirely subjective art form to consume, so everyone will feel something different. I hope they leave satisfied by the trajectory of the music and the story and leave with an increased interest in classical music.


LAS:               Your father is Black, and your mother is Korean. What are your thoughts about heritage discussions in a music interview?

Goosby:          I think it’s very important. It’s not a common ethnic combination, and I’m very proud of both cultures that make up who I am. And I’m happy that my Black and Korean sides have produced some incredible foods! I’m very proud of my mixed race and the platform to discuss and show it off. It’s an opportunity for people to see someone who looks like me playing classical music. I can go into schools and see kids and in concert halls where people look at me and think, let me check him out; I’m curious now, so it’s a win–win for me. Hopefully, it inspires kids, musicians, and others to be fully themselves.

To hear Randall Goosby play, visit randallgoosby.com.