To the members of the orchestra,
the board, and the Guild:
What a great time I have had to have been associated with so many wonderful musicians of the Livermore-Amador Symphony—and for so many years. I must thank all of you who had anything to do with the success of this band: the board; the Guild; and, of course, each and every one of the players, past and present.
A pleasure to have had all my children play at times with the group: Jennifer, Jeffrey, and Holly, and even my granddaughter Margaux—and, of course, Helene. So many of you have become close friends and associates that it often feels like one happy family. And, I warmly appreciate the leadership and responsibility that many have assumed when called upon to do so.
In the next few years, I hope that I will be called upon to offer advice and support in any way that I can. In this way, I would give back to the orchestra after all the years of service that each of you have given to me and the organization. Surely your new conductor will be able to continue what has been a wonderful fifty years of growth and accomplishment.
Art Barnes (May 2014)
Barnes conducting a concert
at Livermore High School, approx. 1968
Celebrating the Symphony’s
at Asilomar in Pacific Grove, 2013
Art Barnes took over the podium of the Livermore-Amador Symphony in the fall of 1964. The 2013–14 season marked his
50th year and his last year of full-time involvement.—The Symphony developed from a night school class to a fine community orchestra as the group grew in size and expertise under his leadership.
The LAS concert on May 17, 2014, Barnes’ last as conductor and music director, was very celebratory: The orchestra performed two of his compositions, the mayor of Livermore presented a city proclamation extolling him, and the Stanford band played a loud and energetic tribute to him. The concert began with the band and orchestra playing Barnes’ arrangement of the “Star-Spangled Banner”—see photos featuring Art Barnes with the orchestra and the Stanford Band.
During his college career at Wichita State University, Barnes was a member of the Wichita Symphony’s trombone section. He graduated in 1953 with a bachelor’s degree in music education and a master’s degree in theory and composition. His early career included serving as supervisor of music for two years in a community in western Ohio. During that time he was a member of the trombone section of the Fort Wayne (Indiana) Philharmonic. During these early years he had an active career as a piano accompanist and also was a jazz band trombonist and pianist. He would play in a piano bar until 2 a.m.!
His first university position was at Southern Illinois University, where he conducted the band program, taught theory and ear training, and played bassoon in the Faculty Woodwind Quintet. He moved to Fresno State in 1959 as director of bands and professor of theory and ear training; and he was first bassoon in the Fresno Symphony.
Barnes arrived at Stanford in 1963 on a one-year sabbatical from Fresno to work on a doctorate in orchestral conducting. When the degree was finished, he was offered and accepted a full-time position at Stanford. There he conducted the chamber orchestra and the entire band program and taught theory, ear training, and score reading. During his early years in the area he also served as conductor of the choir at the Palo Alto Unitarian Church and as conductor of the El Camino Youth Symphony. He spent four summers as a conducting fellow with the American Symphony Orchestra League; his primary conducting mentor in this venue was Richard Lert. He also spent a summer workshop studying with conductor Eric Leinsdorf.
In the U.K., Barnes has been a guest of the music department of the University of York several times—most recently in the summer of 2012, when he accepted an invitation to be a visiting scholar in the music department. In addition to his orchestral involvement, he has worked in York as a brass band composer and conductor. Some of his compositions are published in Britain by June Emerson Wind Music. A work for French horn and piano was performed in May 2012 by the principal horn of Opera North at a convention of brass players in England. Barnes has appeared as a guest conductor, clinician, and adjudicator in Australia, Japan, England, the Philippines, and the U.S.
Art Barnes at an
in March 2010
held to celebrate
his 80th birthday.
(photo: Walter Davies)
During the five decades of his involvement with the Livermore-Amador Symphony his entire family performed as members of the orchestra or as soloists: His wife and son on French horn, one daughter on violin and viola, another on bassoon, and a granddaughter on cello.
His eclectic background and skills have strongly contributed to the success and longevity of the Symphony.
Symphony lore for years included a myth that Barnes’s doctoral thesis was based on his work with LAS. The Symphony did have a role, of lesser import, in some of the classes he taught at Stanford, though: Recordings of LAS mistakes were occasionally used as examples for ear-training students to listen for “What was wrong with that?”!
True story: Art Barnes once left a Friday-night Pops concert in Livermore with his scores on the roof of his car! He conducted the Saturday Pops concert primarily from merged individual parts. The music was discovered on Sunday morning near Vineyard Avenue south of Livermore, as wet sheets scattered over the countryside.—Orchestra member Larry George, on a bicycle, had retraced Barnes's route home! He gathered up the music and brought it to the home of orchestra members Arnold and Marion Clark since Marion was the Symphony librarian. The three of them spread music throughout the house to dry; music everywhere. And their efforts paid off: the complete set of music was successfully recovered and usable. (Good thing, since some of it had been rented!)