Donsbach wins New Mexico Composers Competition
John Donald Robb Musical Trust at UNM bestows honor
day, Carl Donsbach works as a user support analyst II for the
General Librarys information technology department. By
night, he composes a little music.
recently won the New Mexico Composers Competition held
by the John Donald Robb Musical Trust at UNM.
of the competition was to use an ethno-musicological work of
John Donald Robb, a lawyer turned musician who served as dean
of the College of Fine Arts from 1942-57. Robbs fascination
with Hispanic folk music resulted in a collection of 3,000 field
recordings of traditional songs and dances that are the foundation
of the John Donald Robb Archive of Southwestern Music at UNM.
Donsbach scoured the collection and chose Palomita.
liked the melody. Its very beautiful and has an interesting
structure. My piece is titled Palomita: Canción
for Piano Trio. I set it for a chamber trio of piano,
violin and cello, he said. The piece will be performed
at a composers symposium scheduled in Keller Hall in March,
the piece from northern New Mexico. It is a song about a young
lady experiencing anxiety over her young man. She has
a terrible dream about a wounded dove that came to her. Possibly
its an omen, he said.
has been composing music since he came to UNM 20 years ago to
earn a degree in guitar performance. My interest in composing
came after taking composition and music theory courses,
he said. Donsbach has composed a couple of symphonies including
one he initially titled Green Music because it projected
sympathy for the environment and environmental causes. He wrote
it as his masters thesis in composition in 1997.
idea was hard to get across without words, so I changed the
title to Symphony #2, he said. He composed Symphony #1
in 1988 after finishing his bachelors degree. It
wouldnt leave me alone. It had to come out, he explains.
not Donsbachs first award. While a UNM undergraduate he
won music composition awards for competitions open to graduates
and undergraduates. I won a couple of times, he
As a computing
professional Donsbach says theres a kind of creativity
in working with computers. Ive done programming,
but now I repair machines and work to make sure that the software
and hardware work well together, he said. Theres
harmony in that, too.
in computers came through music. He worked copying music for
several composers and arrangers locally. Id heard
it could be done on computers. At the time it was a laborious
process involving velum. Making changes involved scraping with
a razor or a knife and cutting out replacement data and fitting
it perfectly in its place, he said.
a secondhand computer and the program Finale. I spent
a lot of time devoted to making that computer work better. I
got to the point where I started getting more computer work
than music work, he said. He was hired by CIRT in 1994
and transferred to the library a couple years later.
Donsbachs composition work is a spare time activity, its