Carol Barnett (b. 1949) creates audacious and engaging music, both for traditional instrumentation, and for cross-pollinations such as a mass accompanied by a bluegrass band or a duet for steel pan and organ. A force in the Minnesota music scene since 1970, her work has been funded by multiple regional and national organizations, and published through major houses. Carol is a charter member of the American Composers Forum and a graduate of the University of Minnesota. She was composer in residence with the Dale Warland Singers from 1992 to 2001, and taught composition at Augsburg College from 2000 to 2015.
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My music has its roots in the Western classical tradition, supplemented by explorations of the Jewish liturgical tradition and the folk music of Greece, Italy, Russia, Southeastern Europe, and the Middle East. I often use preexisting material: folk melodies, literary influences and texts. I believe that music is a language based on nostalgia; remembered sounds which evoke other places, times and emotions.
I am most interested in communicating with my listeners by using musical language familiar to them, then adding something new: more complex harmonies, elements from a different musical tradition, or departures from the expected formal structure. I work rather slowly, striving for a balance of well-grounded formal structure with effortless flow from one event to the next. Since I am a performer as well as a composer, I understand the occasional need to write within the parameters of limited rehearsal time and modest technical accomplishment without "writing down" to the performers. While writing accessibly, I try to find something unusual to say, something unique, magic, that bypasses intellect and goes straight to the heart.