Jennifer Margaret Barker's compositions have been performed and commissioned by, most notably, The Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra with the St. Louis Children's Chorus, The Detroit Symphony Orchestra, The New Jersey Symphony Orchestra with the New Jersey Youth Choirs, and The Virginia Symphony with The Virginia Children’s Chorus, The Fort Collins Symphony, The Champaign-Urbana Symphony Orchestra with the Central Illinois Children's Chorus, The Lynchburg Symphony with Cantate Children’s and Youth Choir of Central Virginia, The Bearsden Choir with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra Brass and Percussion Ensembles, The Newark Symphony Orchestra, The University of Delaware Symphony Orchestra, The Bay Youth Symphony (Virginia), Orchestra da Camera of the San Domenico School Music Conservatory, The University of Delaware Chorale, The Children’s Chorus of Maryland, Colorado State University Concert Orchestra, Vocal de Cámara Platense (Argentinian), The Scottish Chamber Orchestra String Quartet and String Trio, Orchestra 2001, Relâche, Network for New Music, Society for New Music, Mélomanie, 6-WIRE, Marimolin, Vocali3e, Luna Nova, Del’Arte Woodwind Quintet, Newprism Ensemble, Women in Music-Columbus, Colorado College Woodwind Quintet, Christiana Winds, Trio Arundel, The Taggart-Grycky Duo, Musica Nova, The Holywell Ensemble, Duo Pegasus, as well as an extensive list of international concert artists, including Martin Jones, Alice K. Dade, John Novacek, Sharon Harms, John McMurtery, Kevin Robert Orr, Heather Corbett, Christopher Nichols, Grant Youngblood, Howard Watkins, Ivano Ascari, Leonardo Carrieri and Francesca Hurst.
Her compositions have been featured on documentary and art films, including “No Denying” and "A Box of Whistles", and promotional films such as "An Autumn Day in the Hagley Powder Yard", for the Hagley Museum and Library. Her compositions have also been exhibited as music-video art in galleries such as Philadelphia's Crane Arts, and utilized as musical underscoring for theatrical productions, such as a production of Shakespeare's 'The Tempest' in Mumbai, India. To date, her works have been performed in China (mainland and Hong Kong), Japan, India, Australia, Sweden, The Netherlands, Finland, Belgium, France, Spain, Portugal, Germany, Austria, Italy, Malta, The Czech Republic, Slovenia, Canada, Israel, Argentina and Brazil, as well as in the United Kingdom (Scotland, England and Wales) and the United States. Barker has also been invited to present lectures on her works and composition masterclasses at festivals, conferences, universities and conservatories, in Malta, Hong Kong, Singapore, New Zealand, Australia and England, as well as in the States and her native Scotland.
In addition to a wide variety of international awards, Barker has received grants from organizations such as The National Endowment for the Arts, The Scottish Arts Council, Creative Scotland, the Pew Charitable Trust, the American Composers Forum, the Virginia Commission for the Arts, the Norfolk (USA) Commission on the Arts and Humanities, the Meir Rimon Commissioning Assistance Grant, the Pennsylvania Performing Arts on Tour, the Philadelphia Music Project, and the Delaware Division of the Arts. Among her composition awards are a 2007 Established Artist Fellowship from the Delaware Division of the Arts for her contributions to the State of Delaware, and two awards from The American Prize. In 2018 she was awarded the Pi Kappa Lambda Chamber Work Commission, with the premiere of the work taking place at the Centennial Anniversary Convention of Pi Kappa Lambda (1918-2018) in Washington, DC. In January she was named the 2021 Masters Fellowship Award recipient from the Delaware Division of the Arts.
Published by Boosey & Hawkes, Theodore Presser, Vanderbeek & Imrie Ltd., Southern Percussion and McKenna-Keddie Publishing, Barker has received numerous broadcasts of her compositions on American public radio (including 'Performance Today'), Canadian radio, Hong Kong radio, Swedish radio and the BBC.
Two CDs are dedicated solely to Barker’s chamber compositions: Composers Recordings Inc.'s Nyvaigs CD which is currently distributed by New World Records, and Meyer Media's Geenyoch CD which includes a bonus DVD featuring four music videos created by British cameraman John Anthony Palmer. In reviewing the Geenyoch CD, critic Jon Alan Conrad noted that Barker’s music “sounds familiar and yet always new. While speaking in her own distinctive compositional voice, it answers the emotional and visceral needs that music has always met”. Conrad also notes Barker’s ability to “incorporate thrilling new sounds”, and that “there is always a gratifying curve and arch to her vocal and instrumental phrases, as well as in the shaping and pacing of whole movements”. Further ensembles who have recorded Barker's compositions on CD and DVD include Mélomanie (2103 Excursions CD), 6ixwire (2013 Sixth Sense DVD) and the Virginia Children's Chorus (2005 Golden Thread CD). Three new CD recordings of Barker's compositions were released in 2016, 2017 and 2018. The first was a recording of Moana and BuMian performed by internationally renowned British pianist, Martin Jones, and released on the PnOVA American Piano Music Series from Mahin Media LLC. The second was an EP Release from Meyer Media LLC of A Lassie's Love, recorded by Scottish Ensemble, Vocali3e. The third was a recording of Na Tri Peathraichean by American flautist, Alice K. Date, with American pianist, John Novacek, released on Naxos Records. In 2019 a further composition by Barker was released by Albany: a recording of ...to the pale green sea of evening... by American clarinetist, Christopher Nichols, with the composer on piano. An extensive video recording catalog of Barker’s compositions is also published online.
Barker is a Full Professor of Music Theory/Composition at the University of Delaware. She is Co-Chair of New Music Delaware and Artistic Director/Founder of Still Breathing: The University of Delaware Contemporary Music Ensemble. As a William Penn Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania, she received the Ph.D. and Masters degrees in music composition. She received two Masters degrees in piano performance and music composition respectively from Syracuse University, and an Honors Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Glasgow in Scotland.
Barker was a composition student of American Pulitzer-prize winners, George Crumb, Melinda Wagner and Richard Wernick, as well as Jay Reise, James Primosch, Daniel S. Godfrey and Andrew Waggoner. In addition, she studied with British composers, Sir Peter Maxwell-Davies, Judith Weir and John Maxwell Geddes. As a pianist, she studied with Anne Crawford, Gustav Fenyö and Lawrence Glover (Royal Conservatoire of Scotland; formerly RSAMD), and with Greek-American pianist, George Pappastavrou, and Canadian pianist, Gary Spielstead. She studied violin with J. Mullen Begbie (Concertmaster of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra) and Angus Andersen (Concertmaster of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra), and oboe with Phillip Hill (Principal Oboist with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra). She studied organ with Scottish organist, Gerald Walker.
Born and raised in Stirlingshire, Scotland, Barker has split her time between Scotland and America since 1987. In addition to composing, Barker is active as a chamber and collaborative pianist.
Recent festivals/conferences in which her music has been featured include:
- 2021 National Flute Association Convention, Washington, DC (postponed from 2020 due to COVID-19)
- 2019 National Flute Association Convention, Salt Lake City, Utah, USA
- 2019 Society of Composers, Inc. National Conference, New Mexico, USA
- 2018 Pi Kappa Lambda Centennial Anniversary Convention, Washington, DC, USA
- 2018 Victoria International Arts Festival, Gozo, MALTA
- 2018 Belvedere Chamber Music Festival in Memphis, Tennessee, USA
- 2018 Society of Composers, Inc. Region III Conference, Newport News, Virginia, USA
- 2018 PRIZM International Chamber Music Festival, Memphis, Tennessee, USA
- 2018 Society of Composers, Inc. Region III Conference, Virginia, USA
- 2017 Women in Music Symposium, Denver, Colorado, USA
- 2017 LIU Post Chamber Music Festival, Long Island, New York, USA
- 2016 Victoria International Arts Festival in Gozo, MALTA
- 2016 Belvedere Chamber Music Festival in Memphis, Tennessee, USA
- 2016 International Clarinet Association's ClarinetFest in Lawrence, Kansas, USA
- 2015 Victoria International Arts Festival in Gozo, MALTA
- 2015 Belvedere Chamber Music Festival in Memphis, Tennessee, USA
- 2015 National Flute Association Convention in Washington, DC, USA
- 2015 5th European Clarinet Festival in Ghent, BELGIUM
- 2015 Wintermezzo series of Festival Mozaic in San Luis Obispo, California, USA
- 2014 Festival Internacional Compositores de Hoje in Rio de Janeiro, BRAZIL
- 2014 Odyssey Chamber Music Series in Columbia, Missouri, USA
- 2013 Colorado College Visiting Distinguished Composers Festival, Colorado, USA
- 2013 Edinburgh International Arts Festival Fringe, SCOTLAND