Ronald Robboy

SCORE: 10 out of 17

Just fifty years ago, as a student worker during the summer of 1967, RONALD ROBBOY met Pauline Oliveros when she arrived to assume a position at the newly formed music department of University of California, San Diego. He was tasked with showing her to her new Quonset-hut office and asking her where she wanted him to put up wall-mounted bookshelves. More recently for her, in 2015, he researched the life and work of early-20th-century composer and Houston-based piano teacher Katherine Allan Lively, who had been a role model and inspiration for Pauline’s mother, Edith. Robboy, who played cello professionally with both the symphony and opera orchestras of San Diego for over forty-five years, has also been a conceptual artist, composer and—as co-founder of the groups Fatty Acid and The Big Jewish Band (BJB)—a theoretician and practitioner of experimental Violinism. Long interested in Yiddish literature, he has turned increasingly to research, espe-cially focusing in the last twenty years on the music of Yiddish theater and film. Robboy first performed with Oliveros in 1971, when, to accompany a reading by poet Jerome Rothenberg, they organized the New Kabbalah Blues Band, considered by some a first event of the modern klezmer revival. Robboy went on to direct the BJB, of which Pauline, assuming an identity of Dr. Pinchus Olinsky, was the charter accordionist.