Dr. Scott Robbins’ composition, “Blue Ridge A Cappella” has been selected as a finalist for the American Prize in Music in vocal chamber music composition. The composition is a setting of Professor Rick Mulkey’s poem trilogy of the same name. Professor Mulkey’s poems were motivated by incidents in 1930’s rural Virginia when some residents were involuntarily sterilized.
Dr. Robbins said these poems inspired him to capture that imagery through music. “One style that I invoke is rural folk music — at least, to the extent I can with voice, piano, flute, and English horn,” Dr. Robbins said. “It’s especially apparent in the second song, which is based on the old hymn “Shall We Gather at the River.” I also included a cappella singing at some point in all three songs: it’s at the beginning the first song, the middle of the second, and the third song (and the entire piece) end with only the sound of the voice.”