UNM’s Rombach-Kendall was ‘mentor, friend and role model’
Copyright © 2022 Albuquerque Journal
The skills and experiences of Eric Rombach-Kendall, professor of music at the University of New Mexico, covered an impressive range – teaching, professional conference performances, special projects, recordings he made, articles and publications, reviews, shows, videos and so on.
Chances are that many of his colleagues were unaware of the wide range of his efforts and accomplishments.
“He was incredibly humble for how he was an accomplished musician and educator,” said Michael Hix, acting chair of UNM’s music department. “Some things I didn’t even know until I read the accolades.”
There has been no shortage of accolades since Rombach-Kendall, director of UNM bands and a member of UNM’s music faculty for nearly 30 years, died Jan. 24 of a heart attack. He was 64 years old.
Survivors include his wife, Julie Rombach-Kendall; daughter, Rebecca Kendall; and his son, Michael Kendall.
There will be a memorial service at 1 p.m. on Sunday, February 20 in the prayer garden of St. John’s United Methodist Church, 2626 Arizona NE.
Mentor and role model
Rombach-Kendall was born in California, but moved to Tacoma, Washington as a child.
He earned a Bachelor of Music with Honors from the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma and a Master of Music in Music Education and Wind Instrument Conducting from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.
He was a high school orchestra director in Washington for six years; professor of music at Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota, in 1988; and assistant professor of music and conductor of the wind ensemble at Boston University from 1989 to 1993, when he joined the faculty of UNM.
He was associate chair of the music department at UNM in the fall of 1997 and also from 2007 to 2010, served as acting chair of the department in the spring of 1998, and was president of the College Band Directors National Association from 2011 to 2013. .
Hix said that as director of UNM’s orchestra, Rombach-Kendall oversaw the university’s entire orchestra program, including the marching band, basketball marching band, marching band symphony, the symphony of winds and a number of chamber ensembles.
“He didn’t teach or lead every group, but he was the boss who made sure everything worked,” Hix said. “He was the conductor of the UNM Wind Symphony.” Rombach-Kendall was the conductor and co-producer of five recordings made with the UNM Wind Symphony for Summit Records.
Hix had known Rombach-Kendall for about 10 years.
“I have been with UNM since 2012 and from the first month he has been a wonderful mentor, friend and role model,” Hix said.
He said Rombach-Kendall was a strong believer in contemporary music and commissioned new work.
“In his commissions he identified some of the upcoming composers for orchestra, or established composers for orchestra, for new works and expanded the canon for the wind ensemble.”
Rombach-Kendall’s most significant achievement is something that cannot be reflected in a resume.
“His impact on every student he taught just had this huge ripple effect,” Hix said. “Hundreds of students he has taught have gone out and taught thousands more. The exponential impact has been really profound.
Hix said to ensure the impact remains strong, Rombach-Kendall’s family, along with many friends, colleagues and musicians across the country, immediately established the Eric Rombach-Kendall Memorial Band Scholarship. in the music department of UNM. Donations can be made online at www.unmfund.org/fund/rombach-kendall.