Sunday, March 22, 2009

Barbara York

I recently attended the 2009 Great Plains Regional Tuba-Euphonium Conference in Manhattan, Kansas at Kansas State University. I had the pleasure of meeting pianist and composer named Barbara York. Some of you may already know her, but let me take this chance to elaborate!

Barbara is a self-proclaimed "hip, old lady who likes to use colorful words." Her approach to composition is from the heart. Her music has a real sense of melody, emotion, and direction. In any setting, either solo, chamber, full band, or orchestra, Barbara pays close attention to melody and how it interacts with other voices. She told me her first works were not well received because it was during a time of crisis in composition. You must remember figures like Boulez, Stockhausen, Nono, to name a few, who were iconic composers from the mid-twentieth century. They were steeped in the idea of serial composition, a process in which dynamics, pitch, articulation, and rhythm were all predetermined by some master plan. Music from Barbara York did not fit into this academic vein and was therefore cast aside for a long time. Thankfully, her works for wind instruments have garnered her the recognition and respect she deserves. GO BUY HER MUSIC! She's written so much for tuba, euphonium, quartet, and other types of mixed ensembles. Barbara's music is published through Cimarron Press.

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