Barr Institute Programs

I.  The Barr Institute Laureate Program

The most significant activities of the Barr Institute focus on the Laureate Program.  Every few years, the Barr Advisory Board selects a major figure in American music as the Barr Institute Laureate. Composer Laureates have included Steven Stucky (2006–2008), Stephen Hartke (2008–2012), John Corigliano (2012–2015), and Jennifer Higdon (2016–2018). The Barr Institute has also had an ensemble Laureate,  eighth blackbird (2013–2014) and a Scholar Laureate Carol Oja (2014–2015). All current and future works of each composer Laureate become part of the Barr Institute Collection.  Laureates visit the UMKC campus several times each year during their tenure to participate in symposia, performances of their work, masterclasses and lessons, and presentations to public schools and other organizations, creating an ongoing relationship with students and faculty in the Conservatory and the Kansas City. Activities are collaborative in nature, with UMKC and the Kansas City community.  The Conservatory also partners with other performing organizations to present the works of composer Laureates. Past collaborations have included the Kansas City Symphony (Stephen Hartke), Kansas City Chorale (Steven Stucky), Side-by-Side with eighth blackbird (Office Port), the Kansas City Public Library, The Lyric Opera (Words + Music student works coached by John Corigliano/Mark Adamo, and Jennifer Higdon), UMKC Opera (Mark Adamo’s Little Women, Spring, 2015), and the UMKC Media Studies/Tivoli Theater Film Series (Corigliano, Spring, 2015).

II.  Paul Creston Collection

Howard and Patricia Barr were long-time friends with composer Paul Creston and his family, and were influential in bringing the Paul Creston Collection, with over 50,000 letters, manuscripts and other documents, to the Miller Nichols Library at UMKC.  Another significant aim of the Barr Institute is to promote the use of the Collection, to prepare, present and record Paul Creston’s music, and to foster interest in his work in other venues.

Paul Creston
Paul Creston

In 2012, the Barr Institute sponsored a major exhibit of the collection’s materials, prepared and displayed by graduate students in the Conservatory’s Musicology Program in cooperation with Special Collections at the Miller Nichols Library.  The students were invited to present a poster session at the national meeting of the Society for American Music in spring 2013.  In addition, Mr. Yuya Sakai, a Japanese doctoral student in musicology, traveled to UMKC to work with the Creston Collection this year.  His doctoral thesis is based on Creston’s approach to rhythm in his music and in his pedagogical works.  His research introduces Creston’s music to Japanese music educators and performers.