BarberFest: The Complete Songs of Samuel Barber

In 2009, Florestan presented BarberFest: The Complete Songs of Samuel Barber as part of the Voice

of America festival under the direction of Gil Rose. The festival included premieres of previously-unpublished songs, and you can hear some of those works in Florestan’s recording, the Early Songs of Samuel Barber.Many of Barber’s songs have been enjoyed for decades as well-known American repertoire. In 2009, Florestan obtained special permission from the U.S. Library of Congress and Barber’s estate to reproduce the large amount of then-unpublished songs in manuscript form that had neither been heard often nor recorded. Co-Artistic Directors Aaron Engebreth and Alison d’Amato went to the Library of Congress and photographed many of the scores and formatted them into printed pages, as they were too fragile to be photocopied. It was a beautiful experience to see the handwriting, signatures, and playful illustrations of young Barber as he explored diverse poems and compositional textures.

Barber’s biographer, Barbara Heyman, contributed an excellent profile on Barber for the festival booklet, as well as background details of the specific songs included in this release. We are also including some tributes by other artists that worked with Barber at different points in his career. Their perspectives give us a sense of the special place Barber has in the history of American music.

To hear Barber’s songs today, within the vast range of American compositional voices, is both fitting and exciting. The melody that pervades his songs, as well as his ever-maturing appreciation for poetry and lyricism, seem strong and sure contrasts to the many innovations and experiments that occur throughout American music’s history. As 21st-century artists, we thrill to the infinite variety of voices in our canon, and we celebrate Samuel Barber as a passionate and important contributor to a continually expanding landscape.

Collaborators: Gil Rose (Artistic Director, Boston Modern Orchestra Project)

Singers: Janna Baty, Shadi Ebrahami, Joe Dan Harper, Sarah Pelletier

Pianists: Shiela Kibbe, Anne Kissel, John Mcdonald, Linda Osborn


Barberfest Programs, 2009



Other Projects


The Complete Songs of Virgil Thomson
for voice and piano

by composer Andy Vores and poet Todd Boss

The Peculiar Case of Dr. H.H. Holmes
by composer Andy Vores and poet Todd Boss

World Premiere Recordings

A Landscape of Song
The American Vanguard Festival

The Complete Songs of Francis Poulenc

The Poet's Love
A World Premiere Ballet Set to Schumann’s Dichterliebe

Commissions & Premieres





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