Barnes recital features Nebraska premiere of Redford’s ‘Variations on the Incarnation’

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Barnes recital features Nebraska premiere of Redford’s ‘Variations on the Incarnation’

Paul Barnes (center) with composers J.A.C. Redford and Victoria Bond at his performance Dec. 12 at St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church in New York City. Courtesy photo.
Paul Barnes (center) with composers J.A.C. Redford and Victoria Bond at his performance Dec. 12 at St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church in New York City.

Paul Barnes, the Marguerite Scribante Professor of Piano in the Glenn Korff School of Music, will present a faculty recital, “A Vision of Paradise: A Retrospective Inspired by Byzantine Chant,” at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 31 in Westbrook Recital Hall, Room 119.

The concert is free and open to the public. The concert will also be live webcast.

Highlighting the program is the Nebraska premiere of J.A.C. Redford’s “Variations on the Incarnation (2023).” Redford attended Barnes’ performance at the historic St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine Dec. 12, 2023.

“I first met composer and orchestrator J.A.C. Redford 15 years ago when I performed in Oxford, U.K., at the 2008 Oxbridge Conference hosted by the C.S. Lewis Foundation,” Barnes wrote in the program notes. “I am thrilled to be collaborating with him on a commission by the faculty of the St. Constantine School and College in Houston that I premiered in Houston at the 2023 Vision Conference… . The work is based on the venerable Greek Orthodox hymn on the nativity of Christ composed by St. Romanos the Melodist in the 6th century. I’ve been singing this hymn for over 30 years now as the head chanter of Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church in Lincoln, and each year the liturgical experience of the incarnation reveals new layers of meaning.”

Redford is a composer, arranger, orchestrator and conductor of concert, chamber and choral music, film, television and theater scores, and music for recordings. He has written the scores for more than three dozen feature films, TV movies or miniseries, including “The Trip to Bountiful,” Disney’s “Oliver & Company,” “Newsies” and “The Mighty Ducks II and III.” He has composed music for nearly 500 episodes of series television, including multiple seasons of “Coach” and “St. Elsewhere,” for which he received two Emmy nominations.

“Throughout the Variations, I have endeavored to honor the chant through a variety of compositional techniques. Indeed, one could almost sing along with the first three,” Redford said. “Collaborating with Paul has been a real joy. Our conversations have been rich and wide-ranging, and he made several suggestions that substantively improved the work, for which I’m profoundly grateful.”

Redford had the opportunity to see Barnes perform the work in both Houston and New York City.

“What a treat to hear Paul perform the Variations at its premiere in Houston and again in New York,” he said. “In his performances, he dug down deeply into the details of the work and brought out colors and phrases with an eloquence that composers dream of hearing.”

Also on the program is Amy Beach’s “Dreaming, Op. 15, No. 3” dedicated to Barnes’ teacher Menahem Pressler who passed away in 2023 and two pieces by Philip Glass, from Piano Concerto No. 2, “After Lewis and Clark” Part III, “The Land” (dedicated to Ron Hull, who served as chairman of the Nebraska Bicentennial Lewis and Clark Commission who passed away in 2023) and Piano Quintet “Annunciation” (2018).

Barnes will be joined on “Annunciation” by Ruth Meints, violin; Melissa Tatreau Holtmeier, violin; Clark Potter, viola; and Karen Becker, cello.

The program will also feature the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church Choir singing four Orthodox hymns in arrangements by Kevin Lawrence. They will sing the Megalynarion and Kontakion of the Nativity and the Apolitikion and Communion Hymn of the Annunciation.

“This will be a very special evening for me personally as it is the 30th anniversary of my sacramental entry into the Orthodox Church and the birthday of Philip Glass,” Barnes said. “Both events have had a profound influence on the trajectory of my career as a concert pianist, teacher and chanter. I can’t wait to share this with my musical community here in Lincoln.”

The program is co-sponsored by Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church.

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