Composer Paul Clift submitted the winning composition, “1950c”, for classical guitar, in the 2012 UNM John Donald Robb Musical Trust Composers’ Competition. The biennial competition requires composers to use material from the John Donald Robb Field Recordings from the UNM Center for Southwest Research in Zimmerman Library. The winner of the competition receives $3,500.
Clift will be honored with the premiere of his composition at the 2013 John Donald Robb Composers’ Symposium, set for Sunday, March 24 through Wednesday, March 27 at the University of New Mexico.
A doctoral student at Columbia University, Clift designed his winning composition as a musical metaphor to the style of abstract impressionist painter Clyfford Still. “I sought to create a work for solo guitar in my own musical language that made abstract reference to the folk music of the South in the United States,” he said. “The J.D. Robb field-recording archives proved to be of immense value for me, in particular the Matachines field recordings of 1952.”
Clift, an Australian composer, has been living in New York City since receiving a Columbia doctoral fellowship in 2009. He earned a master of music at King’s College in London and a bachelor of arts at Monash University Conservatorium in Australia. His works have been performed at festivals in North America, Europe and Australia. His principal teachers have been George Benjamin, Jean-Luc Hervé, Fred Lerdahl, Philippe Leroux, Fabien Lévy, Yan Maresz and Tristan Murail.
Judging the 2012 competition were Volker Blumenthaler, professor of theory and composition at Hochschule für Musik in Nürnberg, Germany; Lei Liang, professor of composition at the University of California San Diego; and Augusta Read Thomas, professor of composition at the University of Chicago.
The John Donald Robb Musical Trust at the University of New Mexico was established in 1989 and is dedicated to keeping alive the vibrant spirit and contributions of Robb, an accomplished composer and collector/arranger of folk music, whose preservation of Hispanic folk music in New Mexico is unmatched.
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