Stephen Barber is an influential American voice with over 30 years of professional experience as a composer of concert and film music and an arranger, performer and producer for jazz, classical, popular and world music. From early beginnings in Abilene, Texas, his musical contributions encompass a varied list of the world’s leading musicians and ensembles, including Joe Zawinul, Joe Henry, Keith Richards, Meridian Arts Ensemble, Ornette Coleman, T. Bone Burnett, Trakia (Bulgaria) folk ensemble, London Symphony Orchestra, Chamber players from the New York and Los Angeles Philharmonic, American Boys Choir and Czech Radio Orchestra, to name a few.

His diverse compositions have inspired musicians and audiences alike. The New York Times has praised his music for its “vigorous, high-energy … that varies from the sparkling to the explosive.” And, in his recent role as Artistic Director of the Barbwire Music Project, he directs a top-tier ensemble of musicians and much-needed wellspring for new music and youth education.

A protégé of Academy Award-winning composer John Corigliano, Barber has received concert commissions and grants from Concert Artists Guild, Rockefeller Foundation and the University of Texas at Austin. His most recent composition, Wind, Water and Stone, received a spring 2004 premiere by Austin and San Antonio principal clarinetist Steven Girko and acclaimed new music pianist Michelle Schumann. His chamber piece La Cana de Pulcinella, performed by Terry Bozzio and the Tosca Strings, premiered in 2004 at One World Theatre in Austin, TX. In March 2005, Master Musicians Collective released a Czech Radio Orchestra recording of XYZ (terra incognita) for large orchestra. Additionally, Mauro Refosco, percussionist for David Byrne, commissioned a piece for percussion, string quartet and piano.

Barber’s recent commission for wind band, Catch-as-Catch-Can, received an October 2004 premiere by the Banda Nacionale at the Festival de la Habana. The Meridian Arts Ensemble opened the 2004 Festival of Contemporary Music at Seiji Ozawa Hall the Turkish inspired Semehane (Whirling Wall). A UT Austin commission, Bellytones, for marimbist Thomas Burritt and the So Percussion Group, received its premiere at the 2003 International Percussive Arts Society convention. His piece Orpheus and Eurydice for trumpet and piano, commissioned by Jon Nelson, premiered in New York City in spring 2003. Barber has written several pieces for his Barbwire Music Project ensemble, including a large-scale, awe-inspiring 9/11 commission for chamber orchestra and choir entitled The Fallen Sisters, and lighter dance pieces for chamber group entitled Entos, Pelo and Reflections of an Emerald Eye. Two recent violin and piano pieces, Tango and Duo, received their premieres at the 2003 Barbwire El Dia De Los Muertos Concert.

Barber has also lent his talents as an arranger and performer to musicians of all types. His string arrangements are featured on musician/artist David Byrne’s current album Grown Backwards, and on Bryne’s DVD Live Union Chapel London on BBC Video/Nonsuch records. His arrangements can be heard on recordings of Harry Belafonte with London Symphony Orchestra, Vancouver String Orchestra, Betty Buckley with Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, Loudon Wainwright, Meshell Ndegecello, Jennifer Warnes, Daniella Mercury, Arto Lindsay, Alejandro Escovedo, Jubilant Sykes, Marisa Monte, Ute Lemper, Natalie Merchant, Cyrius, Eric Johnson, Ana Torroja, Ely Guerra, Chris Whitley, Stephen Bruton, Charlie Sexton, Jim Lauderdale and Shawn Colvin. He wrote for Ornette Coleman on a critically acclaimed Joe Henry record entitled Scar, and has worked with producers Andres Levin, John Leventhal, T. Bone Burnett and Craig Street.

His work in film and television has received high acclaim and honors. As the composer for Shelly Duvall’s Showtime Network production “Faerie Tale Theater,” he worked with notable directors Peter Medak (The Ruling Class), Ivan Passer (Carlito’s Way), Roger Vadim (And God Created Women), and Michael Lindsay Hogg (Let it Be) on the HBO Nightmare Classic “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.” His score for “The Three Little Pigs” received an ACE nomination for best score, and the series was honored with a 1985 Peabody Award. He worked with BBC producers Mike Salisbury and Michael de Gruy on the documentary Sharks on Their Best Behavior. He received a 1984 BBC Wild Screen Award for best score for Islands of the Fire Goddess, produced by the BBC/National Geographic series “The Natural World” and the PBS series “Nature.”

His recent work with can be heard on several cues of David Torn’s score for Brian Helgeland’s 20th Century Fox film The Order, and on an orchestral arrangement of T. Bone Burnett’s title song for Warner Brother’s The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood. Barber also scored the PBS documentary Rendezvous to Freedom, a true WWII story of escape, evasion and remembrance that aired in late 2005. He also scored a Polish short film by Dan Polsby entitled Midway through the Journey, as well as Liz Lambert’s documentary The Last Days of the San Jose. He collaborated with singer/songwriter Stephen Bruton for the Mitchell Johnson film World without Waves, which won an award for best Southwestern film at the 2003 Santa Fe Film Festival.

As a performer, he has shared a stage or recording studio with Arto Lindsay, Yerba Buena, Christopher Cross, Stephen Bruton, Terry Bozzio, Alejandro Escovedo, Josef Zawinul, Willie Nelson, Keith Richards, Jubilant Sykes, Eric Johnson, Salif Keita, ZZ Top, Bob Malach, Todd Rundgren and others. His recording “Same Time Next Year” with The Nightmayors (Bob Malach, saxes; Tim Hagans, trumpet; Rodney Holmes, drums; Mike Richmond, bass; Eric Johnson, guitar; Stephen Barber, keyboards), was released on Sunken Gong records in Fall 2005.

Also an accomplished producer and engineer, Barber acted as assistant to Louise de la Fuente and producer Andy Kasdin on the 1988 New York Philharmonic tour of Russia. Barber also acted as assistant creative director for a recording of the music of Joe Zawinul with the Vienna Philharmonic.

Barber first studied formal composition with Russell Riepe at Southwest Texas State University in San Marcos. While in college, he was a founding member of the Electromagnets, a legendary Austin experimental jazz/rock group that Frank Zappa once described as “a Mahavishnu Orchestra with a sense of humor.” After a move to New York City, he had the opportunity be a private student of the renowned composer John Corigliano. In many ways, Barber’s music springs from the same musical passions and shared appreciations as Corigliano’s. Barber’s compositions are accessible without being simplistic and, although often influenced by both ethnic and cultural diversity, are fundamentally and uniquely American.

Barber is the founder and artistic director of the Barbwire Music Project ( an Austin, TX based non-profit commissioning, presenting and educational organization for contemporary American music. His direction of Barbwire is an ongoing endeavor and an expression of his passionate devotion to music, audience development and education.

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Fine Music, Vol. 2

Release Date: May 1, 2011
Catalog Number: NV5851
Solo Instrumental
Piano Trio
String Orchestra
FINE MUSIC, VOL. II is the second compilation of the Navona Records Fine Music digital series. This installment features the works of Marinescu, Barber, Evans, Elizondo, Zaimont, Nagorcka, Hofmeyr, Wilenski, Stölzel, Bakker and Sackman. This collection both highlights some of Navona's choicest tracks and offers a preview of things to come.


Release Date: May 1, 2011
Catalog Number: NV5850
21st Century
Large Ensemble
String Quartet
ASTRAL VINYL is a collection of the compositions of composer, arranger, performer and producer Stephen Barber. Barber's remarkably original music draws an inner conversation free from constraints to create eclectic works that invite emotional involvement and provide fresh perspectives towards music. The works on this disc range from a piece for string quartet to a fanfare for brass ensemble to a piece for soprano, piano and steel drum trio, all of which are uniquely and brilliantly imaginative.