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The music of Jennifer Margaret Barker

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Performance celebrates new works by UD composer and Delaware Division of the Arts Masters Fellowship award recipient

Jennifer Margaret Barker poses in front of her musical composition notes seen on her laptop and external monitors.

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Both the University of Delaware community and the public are invited to attend The Music of Jennifer Margaret Barker, a free concert presented live and via video. The presentation, which includes five musical works and features several guest artists, will be held Friday, October 29 at 8 p.m. at UD's Gore Recital Hall.

The upcoming concert is both a celebration of musical talent as well as a requirement for the prestigious Delaware Division of the Arts Masters Fellowship award presented to Barker, a professor of music composition and theory in the UD School of Music.

“The concert on Friday will feature three live performances and two music videos, which will enable me to share the two halves of my compositional life with the audience," said Barker. “As a composer of contemporary classical music, I write compositions for performance by musicians on acoustic instruments and voice. Since 2003, however, that focus has changed slightly to include the creation of music videos for my compositions."

Barker said that the change occurred when she met her husband, John Palmer, a cameraman and editor. Over the past 18 years, the two have collaborated on a large number of music videos based on Barker's compositions, many of which were exhibited in art galleries, at musical festivals and at conferences.

“Our main goal in creating these videos is to create a visual map of the music for people who would not normally attend a concert of classical music," said Barker. “Every element in the video is chosen as a means to lead the viewer through the musical ideas, the phrasing, the structure and the emotions within the music. The feedback on these videos from people who have never attended a classical concert before, or even listened to classical music, has been extremely positive and so, we continue to make more music videos."​

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Statewide recognition

Each year, the Delaware Division of the Arts (DDOA) recognizes the demonstrated creativity and skill of a handful of creative arts professionals out of a pool of applicants statewide who compete for the division's three award categories: the Masters Award, the Established Professional Award and the Emerging Professional Award. Those chosen as fellows receive stipends and must offer at least one exhibit or performance during the upcoming year that provides an opportunity for the public to experience their work.

Barker, the sole recipient of the division's 2021 Masters Fellowship Award, was recognized for her experience and expertise in music composition. Per the division's award guidelines, applicants for the Masters Fellowship must exemplify high artistic quality and demonstrate both involvement and commitment to the arts across Delaware and beyond. They must also have previously received the division's Established Professional Award, which Barker was awarded in 2007.

“Winning the 2021 DDOA Masters award was a huge honor for me," said Barker. “Over the past 21 years, I have come to know and appreciate the excellent work and artistic craft of the entire arts community in Delaware. To receive this honor as part of that community of artists is extremely humbling for me, as well as reaffirming. The work that the DDOA supports throughout our state is immense, powerful and highly impactful. We are extremely fortunate to have such a strong state arts agency in Delaware."

Barker is grateful not only share her works with the community, but also for the opportunity to highlight a variety of other artists on stage at Friday's concert.

“Compositions are just lots of little black notes on paper until they are performed by musicians," said Barker. “In bringing new compositions to life, musicians put a colossal amount of work into re-creating every tiny details of the musical score as well as the emotional essence of the composition. The partnership of composer and performer is therefore an extremely important one; a partnership which enables human creativity to continue, evolve, experiment and impact others."

Friday's concert will present five compositions by Barker.

“On Friday's concert I am delighted to be able to feature live performances by four musicians who have long supported the creation of new music and my own compositions," said Barker. “The members of UD's Tiger Lily Trio have each commissioned, recorded and premiered several of my compositions throughout the past 20 years. Indeed, the work which the trio will perform on Friday is the first live performance of a composition commissioned by the flautist, Prof. Eileen Grycky, for premiere at the 2021 National Flute Association Convention."

According to Barker, that composition is set to be recorded for CD by Tiger Lily Trio next month.

“Dr. Francesca Hurt, guest artist and faculty member at Catholic University in Washington, DC, premiered the two solo piano compositions that she will be performing, back in 2011," said Barker of another composition to be presented on Friday. “Throughout the past 10 years, she has continued to perform these two compositions in concert, and will also record them alongside a third solo piano work in 2022."

The live performances will include Ocean of Glass, presented by the Delaware-based ensemble Tiger Lily Trio—Eileen Grycky (flute), Christopher Nichols (clarinet) and Marie-Christine Delbeau (piano)—as well as Moana and BuMian with guest artist Francesca Hurst on piano. Music video premieres will include Ealasaid featuring the Delaware-based 6-WIRE and the University of Delaware Chorale, as well as Kaitiaki, which will feature Xiang Gao (violin), Eileen Grycky (flute), Christopher Nichols (clarinet), Noel Archambeault (soprano), John David Smith (horn) and guest artists, Samantha Gao (violin) and Merideth Hite Estevez (oboe).

The concert is free and open to the public, but registration is required. Register for the event.

The event will also be streamed by the UD School of Music on UD Live. ​

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A musical career

Described as “a composer of profound sensibility," Barker has received performances of her compositions on six continents. Her compositions have been performed by orchestras such as the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra and the Virginia Symphony; chamber and choral ensembles such as Orchestra 2001, Network for New Music, Vocal de Cámara Platense and Bearsden Choir; and an extensive list of international artists including Martin Jones. Recent international festivals in which her music has been featured include Malta's Victoria International Arts Festival, Brazil's Festival Internacional Compositores de Hoje, and America's Festival Mozaic. Her compositions have been broadcast on American public radio (including Performance Today), Canadian radio, Hong Kong radio, Swedish radio and the BBC. Published by Boosey & Hawkes, Theodore Presser, Southern Percussion, Vanderbeek & Imrie and McKenna-Keddie, Barker's compositions have been released on the Naxos, Albany, New World Records, Composers Recordings Inc., Meyer Media and PnOVA labels.

Barker began teaching at the University of Delaware in 2000. She serves as the co-chair of the faculty ensemble group New Music Delaware, as well as the director of Still Breathing, the University of Delaware Contemporary Music Ensemble. Additional awards and recognitions include grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Scottish Arts Council, Creative Scotland, the Pew Charitable Trust, the American Composers Forum, the Virginia Commission for the Arts, the Norfolk (USA) Commission on the Arts and Humanities, the Meir Rimon Commissioning Assistance Grant, the Pennsylvania Performing Arts on Tour and the Philadelphia Music Project. Barker holds a Ph.D. and master's degree in music composition from the University of Pennsylvania, as well as two additional master's degrees in piano performance and music composition respectively from Syracuse University and an honors degree in music from the University of Glasgow in Scotland.​

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Delaware Division of the Arts

This concert is supported, in part, by a grant from the Delaware Division of the Arts, a state agency, in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts. The division promotes Delaware arts events on DelawareScene.com.​​


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Performance celebrates new works by UD composer and Delaware Division of the Arts Masters Fellowship award recipient
10/27/2021
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