In Your Words
As a student at UNM between 1991 and 1996, my ears were opened to the magical music of the Southwest U.S. I did not know John Donald Robb personally, but I know that I benefited directly from his legacy. Thank you for keeping the music he valued so highly alive.
-- Tiffany Nicely, percussion teacher at SUNY Fredonia
I received the CD "El Testamento" from you today and have listened to the dulcet tones of Alex Chavez that I haven't heard for more decades than I would like to admit. I "discovered" Mr. Chavez in the music room in the Colorado State University library as an undergraduate. Since I'm learning Spanish folk songs, I wondered where I could possibly find the music that I so loved when I was first learning Spanish. Many of his songs stuck with me for years. Somehow I came up with his name from the dark recesses of my mind and was connected to your website through the wonders of the Internet. I am probably one of the few people that even know these songs and I bet that your website is the ONLY place that you can buy them. I was even more pleased that the CD included "la letra" and an explanation for each song. So I must say muchisimas gracias!
-- John Cancalosi, Ithaca, New York
The John Donald Robb Composers' Symposium features everything you would hope to find in a new music festival ̶ great music shared by guest, faculty and student composers, excellent performances, great conversation and camaraderie, intelligent audiences, gracious hosts, and a strong sense of community. Peter Gilbert, Karola Obermüller and the entire Robb Trust board have put together a terrific festival, and I hope and expect their fine and important work to continue long into the future. I was thrilled to be a part of the 2015 Symposium, and I returned home encouraged, challenged and artistically rejuvenated. Thank you!
-- Luke Dahn, composer and Associate Professor of Music at Northwestern College
Big kudos to Karola Obermüller and Peter Gilbert for organizing the 2013 UNM John Donald Robb Composers’ Symposium. I was honored to be included and happy to be there with so many wonderful musicians. Having been an invited guest to many festivals around the world, I thought Peter and Karola's vision and detailed execution was one of the best. I was happy to see that some of their students, during the masterclasses, are working at a high level, equal to many of the top-tier schools. The whole festival was impressive, and, no doubt, a lot of work to plan and manage. But, I appreciated how they always managed to make me feel comfortable, attended to, taken care of. These guys are the perfect team.
-- Ken Ueno, Associate Professor of Music, University of California, Berkeley
I just wanted to express my gratitude to the Robb Trust for including me in the 2012 Composers' Symposium. It was a very rewarding experience in many ways and I was honored to be included with so many great composers. Such an ongoing commitment to new music is rare and goes far to honor the legacy of John Donald Robb.
-- Philip Mantione, Composer at 2012 Composers' Symposium
"Thanks for the whole focus of the John Donald Robb Composers' Competition. Reconnecting concert and folk sources is a cause dear to my heart and I look forward to participating in this intriguing competition."
-- Jimmy Kachulis, Professor of Songwriting and World Music at Berklee College of Music
We watched the KNME-TV documentary about John Donald Robb today in class. In my notes, I wrote down something that was said in the documentary: `Robb negotiated other ways to live his life and do his work.' That is an inspiration to me -- to learn of a person who made his life work in a way that allowed him to both follow his bliss AND serve the world. What an expansive and interesting life, and such a rich local resource!
-- Julia Church Hoffman, Music Education Lecturer, University of New Mexico
John Donald Robb loved and composed all kinds of music, but his passion for the songs of everyday folk is for what he is most remembered. Roaming the countryside of the Southwest during the 1940s and 1950s, Robb recorded and transcribed over 3,000 Hispano folk songs, the largest collection of its time . . . Robb was an adventurer who had traveled the world – Asia, Europe, South America – but found a niche playground for himself here in New Mexico.
A well-educated, wealthy lawyer in New York City, he accepted mid-career a position at the University of New Mexico as dean of Fine Arts in the late 1940s. Music was always his passion, and he found himself composing everything from sonatas to operas, as well as delving into cutting-edge electronic music during the second half of his life. But his greatest legacy is a vast and unique archive of Hispano folk music that he recorded in the 1950s – 1970s, a transitory time in New Mexico when the old culture began to clash with the new.
-- Kelly Kowalski, KNME-TV-5, Emmy Award Winning Producer Director
The 2012 Composers' Symposium was a wonderful event with so much great new music to recommend it. Dean Robb left a wonderful legacy for new music. All aspects of the symposium were so well worked out. It was a heartfelt event.
-- Ruth Loman, Composer and Resident Scholar, Brandeis University
In an exciting and unique way, the 2015 John Donald Robb Composers' Symposium, with its theme of Musical Retellings, was a tapestry of varying colors and textures woven together into one unique and unforgettable experience. The artistic presentation of the music achieved lofty levels of sensitivity, aesthetics and exquisite love that touched a humanistic chord within myself of how, together, internationally, we really do have a commonality in our quest to express a deeper, more pure level of human experience worthy of sharing.
-- Sylvia Ernestine Vergara, composer, Dixon, New Mexico