Grand Center dubs UMSL composer ‘Visionary’

Barbara Harbach, professor of music at UMSL, will receive a Visionary Award from Grand Center. (Photo by Stephanie Zettl)

For the Ninth Annual Visionary Awards, Grand Center sought women artists who inspired the community. The response was a talented nominee roster of visual artists, musicians, dancers, educators, philanthropists and art benefactors. Barbara Harbach, professor of music at the University of Missouri–St. Louis, stood out in one particular category: “Successful Working Artist.”

“She is the epitome of the successful working artist as an award-winning composer, performer, educator and arts advocate that has contributed lasting positive effects in every discipline of the arts at home and abroad,” said Diane Touliatos-Miles, Curators’ Professor of Music at UMSL and one of Harbach’s nominators for the award.

In being named a 2011 Visionary Award honoree, Harbach joins a list of women recognized for their contributions to the St. Louis arts community including Nancy Kranzberg, Carol Staenberg, Jill McGuire, Kim Massie, Susan Slaughter, Joan Lipkin, Jeanne Trevor, Ashley Tate and Jessica Hentoff.

“I am deeply honored and humbled to be among the many talented and accomplished women who have received this award from Grand Center over the past years,” said Harbach via e-mail from London where the London Philharmonic Orchestra is recording an album of her orchestral pieces.

Over the last few years, several recordings of Harbach’s music have been released on CD. She also composed the score for the original musical “Booth!”, which made its debut in 2007 at the Blanche M. Touhill Performing Arts Center at UMSL. The musical went onto be staged in 2009 in New York City.

One of Harbach’s biggest achievements since joining the UMSL Department of Music faculty was her conception and administering of Women in the Arts 2005, a yearlong, multi-venue festival celebrating women creators from the past and present. Her mission has gained permanence in Women in the Arts, a UMSL initiative housed within the College of Fine Arts and Communication.

“Barbara Harbach is one of the most accomplished, prolific and visionary artists of this generation,” said James Richards, interim dean of the college and one of Harbach’s nominators for the award. “Her artistic contributions continue to be transformational throughout the St. Louis community and far beyond.”

Grand Center is an arts and entertainment district in midtown St. Louis with 30 arts organizations and host to more than 1,500 cultural events attracting more than 1.5 million visitors annually. It created the Visionary Award in 2002 to highlight and honor the wide-ranging work of women artists and arts leaders in the community. In the process, the organization also uses the annual awards ceremony to raise funds to support Grand Center’s arts programs.

The Ninth Annual Visionary Awards, sponsored by Brown Shoe Company, will be held May 17 at the Sheldon Concert Hall, 3648 Washington Blvd., with Carol Daniel, of KMOX (1120 AM) and “Great Day St. Louis” on KMOV (Channel 4), serving as emcee.

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