Award-winning musician becomes director of UMSL’s School of Fine and Performing Arts

by | Jul 18, 2016

As director of the School of Fine and Performing Arts, Professor Barbara Harbach will promote the well-being strength, diversity and competence of its associated programs.
Barbara Harbach

As director of the School of Fine and Performing Arts, Professor Barbara Harbach will promote the well-being, strength, diversity and competence of its associated programs. (Photo by August Jennewein)

Curators’ Professor of Music Barbara Harbach has been appointed director of the School of Fine and Performing Arts at the University of Missouri–St. Louis, effective Sept. 1. A faculty member at UMSL since 2003, Harbach is an experienced instructor, composer and performer who was recently named one of the world’s most innovative female professors and its top female organist.

An integral unit within UMSL’s College of Arts and Sciences, the school comprises the departments of Art and Art History; Music; and Theater and Cinema. In making the appointment, Dean Ron Yasbin said that Harbach was the “right person” to coordinate and advance the missions of departments within the school.

“Dr. Harbach has the experience and respect necessary to meld these units internally and promote them externally,” Yasbin said. “The arts are extremely important areas of study and research – especially here at UMSL. I expect their role on the campus and within the greater community will now grow in stature even further.”

Among Harbach’s primary duties will be to secure external funding that will promote the well-being of the fine and performing arts at UMSL as well as promote the strength, diversity and competence of the associated programs to potential students.

Harbach has a large catalog of works, including symphonies; operas; musicals; works for chamber ensembles; film scores; modern ballet; pieces for organ, harpsichord and piano; choral anthems; and many arrangements for brass and organ of various Baroque works. She is also involved in the research, editing, publication and recording of manuscripts of 18th-century keyboard composers, as well as historical and contemporary women composers.

Her work is available in both recorded and published form through MSR Classics, Naxos Records, Gasparo Records, Kingdom Records, Albany Records, Northeastern Records, Hester Park, Robert King Music, Elkan-Vogel, Augsburg Fortress, Encore Music Publishers, Art of Sound Music, Agape Music and Vivace Press. Harbach serves as editor of the “Women Arts Quarterly Journal.”

Her collaborations in the arts are extensive within the UMSL community: Gender Studies with Dr. Kathleen Nigro; the Des Lee Fine Arts Education Collaborative; “Booth! the Musical” premiered in the Blanche M. Touhill Performing Arts Center and was then taken to Skirball Center for the Performing Arts; collaboration with Professor Niyi Coker; “O Pioneers! – an American Opera” debuted at the Touhill; five silent film scores with Professor Rita Csapo-Sweet and the St. Louis International Film Festival; “Jubilee Symphony,” commissioned for the 50th anniversary of UMSL; two ballets; three song cycles for Professor Stella Markou; string quintet for Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration; “Symphony for Ferguson,” commissioned by the Missouri Humanities Council; and “Together in Harmony” for brass and percussion for the convocation of the new School of Fine and Performing Arts and the College of Arts and Sciences.

MSR Classics will release the 11th CD of her compositions since 2007 this fall. The orchestras that have recorded her 10 symphonies include the Slovakia Radio Symphony Orchestra and the London Philharmonic Orchestra.

Harbach honors include the National Arts Associate Distinguished Member of Sigma Alpha Iota; YWCA of Metropolitan St. Louis 2011 Leader of Distinction in the Arts; St. Louis Argus Distinguished Citizens Award; Grand Center Award for Successful Working Artist; Diploma of Excellence in the field of Music, University of West Timisoara, Romania; Missouri Citizens for the Arts, Frederick H. Laas Memorial Award; Missouri Arts Council, Arts Education Award; Zonta Club of St. Louis; Alumni Achievement Award, College of Arts and Architecture, Pennsylvania State University; St. Louis Hellenic Spirit Foundation Award; and an honorary doctorate in music from Wilmington College, Ohio.

She has served on the faculty at the University of Wisconsin–Stevens Point; University of Wisconsin–Oshkosh; Washington State University; the State University of New York at Buffalo; and Nazareth College in Rochester, New York. Harbach holds academic degrees from Pennsylvania State University (BA), Yale University (MMA), Musikhochschule (Konzertdiplom) in Frankfurt, Germany, and the Eastman School of Music (DMA).

Bob Samples

Bob Samples

Bob Samples is associate vice chancellor for university communications at the University of Missouri-St. Louis.