The Patricia and Howard Barr Institute for American Composition Studies at UMKC

The Patricia and Howard Barr Institute for American Composition Studies, launched in 2004, is the fulfillment of a longtime dream of Howard (DMA, UMKC Conservatory of Music, 1971) and Patricia Barr.  The Barrs had distinguished careers as pianists and teachers in southern California, often performing and promoting the works of contemporary American composers.  The Institute celebrates their love of American music and their dedication to its continuing study and performance.

Alfred and Patricia Barr Vintage image
Howard and Patricia Barr
Vintage image

Barr Institute Mission

1.     The acquisition, care, preservation, use and promotion of materials related to the period of American composition between 1890 and thereafter, excluding the art of jazz and its derivatives.

2.     Relevant research initiatives related to the Barr Institute’s mission, including but not limited to scholarly inquiry, reflective composition and collaborative study.

3.     Supplemental funds for students interested in the period and type of composition covered by the Barr Institute.  Such funding may cover research expenses, tuition or other related activities.

4.     The promotion of events and activities, including occasional national symposiums related to the Barr Institute and its collection, and other related activities the Conservatory dean deems appropriate.

In Memoriam—Steven Stucky, a Pulitzer Prize-winning American composer passed away on Sunday, February 14, 2016. Professor Stucky made profound contributions to our music community as an extraordinary composer, an excellent and devoted teacher, an enthusiastic advocate of new music composers, and an absolutely generous human being. As the first Barr Laureate Professor/Composer, he visited our  Conservatory many times, and influenced/supported many of our UMKC composers through lectures, master classes, and new music festivals/workshops and competitions, while providing sincere advice to the development of our Barr Institute at the Conservatory. He will be terribly missed by all of us in our community. RIP Professor Steven Stucky. 

Two Barr Institute Laureates are Nominated for 2017 Grammys:  John Corigliano and Jennifer Higdon

Best opera recording

“Corigliano: The Ghosts of Versailles” — James Conlon, conductor; Joshua Guerrero, Christopher Maltman, Lucas Meachem, Patricia Racette, Lucy Schaufer & Guanqun Yu; Blanton Alspaugh, producer (LA Opera Orchestra; LA Opera Chorus)

“Higdon: Cold Mountain” — Miguel Harth-Bedoya, conductor; Emily Fons, Nathan Gunn, Isabel Leonard & Jay Hunter Morris; Elizabeth Ostrow, producer (The Santa Fe Opera Orchestra; Santa Fe Opera Apprentice Program for Singers)

Best contemporary classical composition

“Higdon: Cold Mountain” — Jennifer Higdon, composer; Gene Scheer, librettist (Miguel Harth-Bedoya, Jay Hunter Morris, Emily Fons, Isabel Leonard, Nathan Gunn & the Santa Fe Opera)


Barr Institute Events

Barr Institute Programs

Barr Institute Rolling Call for Proposals

Click here for some photos from Jennifer Higdon’s Residency

Barr Institute Laureate Ensemble eighth blackbird in concert with Conservatory students, EventPort, Nov. 8, 2012, Kansas City, MO
eighth blackbird works with a Conservatory chamber group on the Helzberg Hall stage, Oct. 27, 2012, photo credit: Eric Williams, KC Symphony