CD Spotlight: Orchestral Music VI - The Sound the Stars Make by Barbara Harbach
Barbara Harbach, who earned a doctorate in composition from the Eastman School of Music, is in our spotlight with her newest release, Orchestral Music VI – The Sound the Stars Make, a mix of new orchestral works and orchestrations of previous compositions. Barbara Harbach wears many musical hats as a composer, harpsichordist, organist, and professor of music at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. Her music is tuneful, and her musical inspirations are often American.
Harbach has long worked to support women in music - she is a co-founder of the journal, Women of Note Quarterly and her Vivace Press publishes music by underrepresented composers – so it’s no surprise that her music incorporates these voices. The suite “Mischances of Life” is drawn from Harbach’s Willa Cather based opera O Pioneers!, and the title piece, The Sound the Stars Make Rushing Through the Sky is an orchestration of her song cycle that set the poetry of Jane Johnston Schoolcraft, the first known Native American poet and the first known Native American woman writer, to music. And the CD begins with a suite inspired by one of the earliest known composers, Hildegard of Bingen. “Spaindango – A Tango Caprice,” a snappy tune, was originally written for harpsichord.
Barbara Harbach herself has felt the sting of sexism; her organ professor in Germany told her that he "did not believe that women belonged on the organ bench." And yet, as they say, she has persisted, releasing dozens of CDs in multiple musical formats. Orchestra Music VI encourages and inspires us all to rise above.