2021 Robb Award ~ Dr. Brenda M. Romero11/8/2021
The Robb Award reflects the Mission and Vision of the UNM Robb Trust. Our Mission is, in
collaboration with the University of New Mexico, to support the music and musical legacy of John
Donald Robb, to further his inspiring commitment to education, and to advance the understanding
of music of the Southwest: Our Vision is that the UNM Robb Trust, in partnership with composers,
performing artists, educators, students, and audiences, will enhance the legacy of Dean Robb by
preserving the traditions of Southwest Folk Music, promoting the music of John Donald Robb,
and supporting the composition of contemporary music.
The prior recipients of the Robb Award are Frank McCulloch, Enrique Lamadrid, and Scott
Brenda M. Romero is professor emerita and founding coordinator of ethnomusicology at the University of Colorado in Boulder. She holds a PhD in ethnomusicology from the University of California, Los Angeles, and Bachelors (1983) and Masters (1986) degrees in Music Theory and Composition from the University of New Mexico. She has worked extensively on the pantomimed Matachines music and dance and other folk music genres that reflect both Spanish and Indigenous origins. She conducted fieldwork in Mexico as a Fulbright García-Robles Scholar in 2000-01 and in Colombia as Fulbright Colombia Scholar from January to July 2011, As Fulbright Scholar she taught the first musicology course at the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana in Bogotá. She performed as Matachines violinist for the Pueblo of Jemez between 1989 – 98, having learned the repertoire from a John Donald Robb archival recording. She received the 2005 Society for American Music’s “Sight and Sound” subvention toward the production of her 2008 CD, Canciones de mis patrias: Songs of My Homelands, Early New Mexican Folk Songs. She is author of numerous chapters, articles, and reviews; coeditor of Dancing across Borders: Danzas y bailes mexicanos (University of Illinois Press, 2009); and is currently completing a book, Matachines Transfronterizos, Warriors for Peace at the Borderlands (University of Illinois Press, forthcoming) for the Folklore Studies in a Multicultural World Series (University of Illinois Press, forthcoming). She is originating editor with Professor Emerita Susan M. Asai for the anthology, At the Crossroads of Music and Social Justice (Indiana Press, forthcoming). She co-produced a short video documentary on the Southern California Cahuilla Birdsong Festival (1987) and a one-hour video documentary on the Ute Mountain Ute Bear Dance (2010); she has also appeared on audio and video documentaries of regional musics. She served as Program Chair for the 2003 International College Music Society (CMS) meeting in Costa Rica and was facilitator, contributor, and host for the College Music Society Summer Institute on the Pedagogies of World Music Theories, held in 2005, 2007, and 2010 and served as Program Chair for the 2016 CMS Annual Meeting held in Santa Fe, New Mexico. She served as chair of the CMS National Committee on Academic Citizenship (2017 – 2018). She facilitated and served as Program Chair for the 2009 Society for Ethnomusicology Annual Meeting held in Mexico City and as an important member of the Local Arrangements Committee for the 2017 Society for Ethnomusicology Annual Meeting in Denver. Her most recent work has been collaborative fieldwork with Dr. Norma E. Cantú (Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas) and ethnochoreologist José Luis Sagredo (Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla, BUAP) on Matachines at the US-Mexico borderlands, a project inspired by Romero’s work, sponsored by the BUAP and funded by the Mexican government. Romero’s creative work includes classical contemporary composition and a performance collaboration with New Mexican musician / anthropologist David F. Garcia; their recording, partially funded by the Northern Rio Grande National Heritage Center, is forthcoming. Her 1987 composition, Native Winds, which was commissioned for the 50th Anniversary of the Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian in Santa Fe, was performed by members of the Santa Fe Symphony and recorded at the Santa Fe Botanical Gardens in November 2020 for a virtual concert series that helped provide income for the musicians during the Covid-19 pandemic.
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