Jennifer Margaret Barker
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Email: jmbarker@udel.edu
Selection of Reviews
"(Barker) eased her way into the concert by immediately forging a lovely, intimate rapport with the audience...; (Barker's) style immediately made its mark in the multi-coloured landscape of the musical texture, one replete with moments of lights and shade, exuberance and introspection, hope and wistfulness...; authenticity and honesty marked the composer’s idiom throughout...; the overall result was one of impeccable execution, with an implicit thread running through the piece...; a wonderfully atmospheric piece, denoting the gentle wind that rustles through crevices and the ferns, truly evocative and haunting..."

Victoria International Arts Festival, Gozo, Malta, July 2016 - review of concert of Barker's compositions performed by Caraid Trì

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"Jennifer Barker’s Naibh Beags (Nyvaigs) belongs to a “battle music” genre that dates back to the Renaissance. Most battle pieces try to evoke the “thrill” of warfare. Barker approaches her subject with a modern sensibility that’s more conscious of the horror of battle alluded to in her text: two verses from The Highlander, an 18th Century poem that the composer read in her native Scots accent.

Naibh Beags depicts the 11th- and 12th-Century battles between the Celts and the Norse that culminated with a battle in which the Norse withdrew for the last time and burned their dead on islands still called the Burnt Isles. Barker opens with subdued ominous drumming on snares and timpani, and builds toward the clash as she reads the first half of the text. In the middle section, she switches to pure music and captures the frenzy of battle with devices that include some striking writing for saxophone and ocarina. 

A soprano part combines syllables from Gaelic and Norwegian and evokes the fury and desperation of the combatants. The final section follows the madness with a beautiful floating melody for soprano, flute, and saxophone and a verse from the poem that describes the Norse retreat and the burning of the dead."

Broad Street Review, article by Tom Purdom, November 9th 2010 – review of Naibh Beags (Nyvaigs) performed by Orchestra 2001

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“…was extraordinarily moving. So was Jennifer Barker’s Blue Waters, a work for vibraphone commissioned by Corbett, and illuminated by dreamy images.”

The Scotsman, article by Kenneth Walton, July 31st 2009 – review of Blue Waters performed by Heather Corbett

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“The ensemble concluded the evening with a performance of Jennifer Barker’s ‘sair wrocht wi lilt’…that was anything but passive…Combining contemporary classical structure with material in the Scottish folk tradition, ‘sair wrocht wi lilt’ came blazingly alive, with lovely, aching melodies that evoked not only Barker’s homeland but Americana as well…Heavily percussive (…including the performers’ bodies as instruments), the piece turned literally into a dance when Bob Butryn set his clarinet down for a show-stopping, superbly executed tap dance. I was reminded of film director John Ford’s wonderful, country dance set pieces, and also of the fact that the “avant garde” need not be unapproachable…”.

Signal to Noise’ Journal, issue #48, winter 2008, - review of sair wrocht wi lilt performed by Relâche

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“Orr then went on to play a much more modern work by Jennifer Margaret Barker. It…took full advantage of the basically percussive nature of the modern piano. There were echoes of Carl Orff, Shostakovich, Copland, and even Mahler, to be heard throughout the piece. But in the end, it was clearly Barker’s own.” 

Youngstown Vindicator, article by Jerry Stephens, February 23rd 2007 - review of Geenyoch Ballant performed by Kevin Robert Orr