Beyond Borders is the theme of the 2014 John Donald Robb Composers’ Symposium, set for Saturday, April 5 through Thursday, April 10 at the University of New Mexico and the South Broadway Cultural Center. The centerpiece is a new multi-media chamber opera that brings important social and political issues to the stage. Cuatro Corridos tells the story, based on true events, of women trapped in a cycle of prostitution and slavery across the U.S.-Mexico border. 

The opera, a tour-de-force showcase of Grammy-winning soprano Susan Narucki, is featured on Monday, April 7 at 7 p.m. at the South Broadway Cultural Center, starting with a short panel discussion on the local realities of trafficking with Lynn Sanchez, director of Human Trafficking Victim Services for Life Link, Maria Sanchez-Gagne, border violence division director for the New Mexico Attorney General's Office and Susan Tiano, director of the UNM Latin American & Iberian Institute. The opera, about one hour in length, will follow. This event and all UNM campus events are free. Reservations are recommended for Cuatro Corridos and can be made by calling 505.848.1320.

The six-day symposium features evening concerts complemented by a daytime schedule of panel discussions and masterclasses. The annual John Donald Robb Concert kicks off the symposium’s musical activities on Sunday, April 6 at 5 p.m. in Keller Hall on the UNM campus. The program includes a set of Robb’s songs and his quintet for piano and strings alongside works by contemporary New Mexico composers. Additional evening concerts feature more local luminaries and music by three visiting composers who collaborated on Cuatro Corridos: Hilda Paredes (Mexico), Hebert Vázquez (Mexico), and Lei Liang (China/USA).

Throughout the week, talks and discussions will use the arts as a way to explore boundaries of cultural identity and social awareness and activism. A panel and film showing will take place on Saturday, April 5 at 2 p.m. in the UNM Mesa del Sol facility. Guest performers and composers will also give numerous workshops and participate in lecture concerts Monday and Tuesday mornings.

For decades, the John Donald Robb Composers’ Symposium, a partnership between the UNM Robb Musical Trust and the UNM Department of Music, has brought composers and performers to the UNM campus annually to engage and teach students about contemporary music and contemporary music performance. The public is invited to all events.

Updates and a schedule of events can be found at the Robb Musical Trust