John Donald Robb Scenes from a New Mexico Mountain Village

Program Notes

Robb's Scenes from a New Mexico Mountain Village (a work that exists in a version for solo piano) was written in the mid-1940's. The composer employed contemporary devices in this composition to represent the experiences one might have in New Mexico's mountains.

The first movement depicts, in Robb's own words, "New Mexico's crowning glory, the golden aspens of autumn."

The second movement is entitled "Procession of the Penitentes." Believed to be derived from Medieval European Christianity, Los Penitentes are a secret sect of Spanish Christians who at one time practiced self-flagellation and enacted Passion Plays with an alarming degree of realism. In 1828, Los Penitentes officially lost cleric support. However, they continued to perform some ceremonies well into the 20th century.

The third movement is, again quoting the composer, "pastoral in mood (and) recreates the stillness of sunset on the plains as seen from a mountain side, the curving shadows of the hills, the slanting rays of the dying sun, and the blaze of color on the clouds and mountains which preludes the final extinction of light." The concluding movement is a boisterous dance. This composition does not quote actual folk melodies; all themes are original. The Scenes from a New Mexico Mountain Village was arranged and orchestrated at the composter's request by John J. Mitchell in 1988.

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