Barbara Barstow Legacy Concert
Join us on Sunday, October 2 at 3:00 p.m. for a legacy concert in honor of Barbara Barstow at the Cullen Center at Westminster Choir College in Princeton. Tickets sold out. Contact email@example.com for more information.
Featuring alumni musicians of the New Jersey Youth Symphony, Westminster Community Orchestra, and special guests, the FREE event will be conducted by NJYS Artistic Director and Principal Conductor Helen H. Cha-Pyo, Music Director of The Discovery Orchestra George Mariner Maull, and Conductor of Westminster Community Orchestra Ruth Ochs.
Barbara Barstow was the second Artistic Director of NJYS (2000-2009) and longtime conductor (1981-2009) who spearheaded the start of the Preparatory Orchestra, Junior Strings, and Orchestral Strings Training Ensemble (OSTE), as well as the annual NJYS summer camp. As an extraordinary teacher, conductor, educator, and mentor, she inspired thousands of young people at NJYS with her infectious enthusiasm for music and passion for excellence. No words can adequately express our sadness at Barbara’s passing or our gratitude for almost 30 years of her dedication and visionary leadership that has helped shape NJYS into the thriving musical community that it is today. Our hearts go out to NJYS alumni whose lives were touched by her incredible gifts.
This concert will bring together two organizations, NJYS and friends and WCO and friends, as well as their alumni, who represent the musical community she loved and served. Together these two organizations will set the perfect stage for a heartfelt tribute to Barb’s inspiring career. To RSVP to participate in the concert, register here: https://bit.ly/3QkjkGg
A Tribute to the Former Artistic Director of the New Jersey Youth Symphony
Barbara was the second Artistic Director of NJYS (2000-2009), and longtime conductor (1981-2009) who spearheaded the start of the Preparatory Orchestra, Junior Strings and Orchestral Strings Training Ensemble (OSTE) as well as the NJYS Summer Camp. As an extraordinary teacher, conductor, educator and mentor, she inspired thousands of young people here at NJYS with her infectious enthusiasm for music and passion for excellence. Our hearts go out to NJYS alumni whose lives were touched by her incredible gifts.
No words can adequately express our sadness at Barbara’s passing or our gratitude for almost 30 years of her dedication and visionary leadership that has helped NJYS to be a thriving musical community that it is today. As we are mourning the loss of Barbara, we are keeping her husband Bill and the Barstow family in our thoughts and prayers while planning ways to honor her memory and legacy. If you would like to share your memories and tributes to Barbara, please send an email to rememberingbarbara@NJYS.org.
The Wharton Arts & New Jersey Youth Symphony Leadership Team
Remembrances of Barbara Barstow:
I had the pleasure and the privilege of playing under Barbara’s baton as an adult in the Westminster Choir College Community Orchestra in Princeton NJ for several years. Barbara was a great conductor – clear, engaging, and upbeat (pun intended)! A favorite memory is that during a performance, the soloist stopped playing and asked [Barbara] to go back so she could play a passage again, but Barbara just kept on going and eventually the soloist caught on that the conductor was in charge! In recent years, my husband and I visited Barbara and Bill in Florida and we played some chamber music together with some of her musical friends. I miss her.
– Linda Sandhaus
We loved you and miss you so much our dear cousin!!!
– Pamla McKenney
I was a cellist in the NJYS orchestras since I was small and Mrs. Barstow would always be full of heart and humor and energy all in equal boisterous boundless amounts. I remember particularly her always wearing those glittering earrings and how she could bring down a room of rowdy young kids to silence and somehow get us all committed to the music. Who doesn’t remember Mrs. Barstow’s long rants about living “in the now” and how we need to seize the moment. And she sometimes would tell wild stories from her youth involving motorcycles. She often was able to ease up the ice in a room with jokes about intonation. She always moved with her arms in big strokes, even when she wasn’t conducting.
I would not be the musician or woman I am today without her. She is one of the very first who taught me how to be dedicated to something.
If only I had seized the moment myself and really told her how grateful I am. I am truly sorry she is gone and my heart goes to her loved ones and the great giant hole in all our lives that she has left.
– Katelyn Kim-Mulgrew
Barbara Barstow walked – no, bursted – into my fourth grade classroom bubbling with enthusiasm, and things were never, ever the same! Barb literally changed my life, and her profound influence, both in terms of music and life, has affected me every day since. She touched the lives of thousands, and yet she made each and every one of us feel so very special and cherished.
Not only did Barbara introduce me to music and the violin, which was quickly to become my passion, but her zest for life, enthusiasm, and spirit made every moment spent with her a treasure. She was always there with encouragement, laughter, that bright Barstow smile, and a shoulder when needed. From those first days of group lessons at Finderne School (in the janitor’s closet, because there was no dedicated music space when she arrived!), to those late evening calls with results after Region and All-State auditions, to that face beaming on the podium, to that woman applauding madly in the audience after watching one of her former pupils perform, she was a larger than life presence. A second mother to me, and likely to numerous others, Barbara kept up with the lives of many of her former students…for ten, twenty, thirty, forty, and yes, over fifty years. Isn’t that amazing? Barb was an incredible woman. The angels were singing and playing their instruments brilliantly last Thursday.
– Carol Lynn Kropewnicki Kabacoff, First Concertmistress of NJYS
Mrs. Barstow wasn’t just a youth orchestra conductor – she was a force of nature. If ever you were lucky enough to be pulled into her orbit, there was no way you were going to escape without your life being changed for the better. She was tough; she was funny; her enthusiasm was of the most infectious kind and every child who had the fortune of making music with her knew without a doubt how much she cared about them. My parents and I adored her, and would often recount her famously funny moments on the podium years later with peals of laughter. I had the privilege of playing under her in various NJYS ensembles from 1996-2002. I’ll also never forget the once-in-a-lifetime journey with NJYS to Ireland in 2007: I was one of the lucky few “ringers” brought out of “retirement” to fill out the violin section (I was barely 22 years old). This meant that, while most of the rest of the teenaged orchestra was tucked into the Dublin hotel for the night, I got to enjoy a Guinness at the bar with my favorite conductor. That whole tour was incredible! I will miss Mrs. Barstow so very much and will continue to hold her and her family in my heart.
– Rosemary Topar, former student
Barbara Barstow played a defining role in my life. She was the conductor of Junior Strings when I became involved with the NJYS family of orchestras at the age of 12. Her attention to detail and insistence on proper orchestral playing skills was some of the best training I received. Her commitment to excellence inspired me at a time in my life when I was first becoming a serious musician, and I benefited from participation in the orchestras all the way up through high school in the Youth Symphony. NJYS was a strong foundation that paved the way for all my other pursuits as a violinist at summer programs including Interlochen Arts Camp, Point Counterpoint Chamber Music Camp, audition opportunities, and eventually my career.
I remember how excited Barbara was to offer me a job as a camp counselor at NJYS Summer Camp in 2006 when she learned that I was majoring in Music Education at Rutgers. She even handed over the baton to give me the opportunity to work with one of the orchestras on a piece for the camp performance. As intense and fiery as she was as a conductor she was gentle and encouraging as a mentor.
When I heard of Barbara’s passing I pulled out some of the CDs I still have from my years in the NJYS program and played a Playathon recording for my sons (ages 10 and 8). As we listened, I told them what the Playathon experience was like and could hardly believe how good we sounded! My boys loved some of the familiar themes from their favorite movies and claimed we sounded just like a professional orchestra. Listening to the Beach Boys Medley, I could just see her dancing! Thank you, Mrs. Barstow.
– Sara Stevenson D’Sa
I was so sad to hear the news of Barbara’s passing. She was so wonderful in giving me an opportunity to coach the horn section of the Prep Orchestra. She had such positive energy. NJYS will miss her.
– Jennifer Riggert
Barbara sure knew how to use the many gifts she was given – and she shared them in abundance. Of course, her smile and sense of humor pulled you in, then her mastery as a music educator would go to work. I was a member of NJYS in the early 1980’s, so I didn’t have the opportunity to be conducted by Barbara. However, after college I returned to teach MT (Musicianship Training) classes at NJYS, and it was during this time I got to know her better. Over the years, she became a mentor – both directly and indirectly. As a music major in college and graduate school, I was incredibly inspired by this strong and brilliant conductor who happened to be a woman! She encouraged my conducting work, and championed me as a composer by programming an orchestral work I had written. She conducted NJYO performing the piece at Alice Tully Hall. A wonderful memory is from when she and Bill would attend my parents’ annual Holiday Caroling Party. We would always end the night singing several choruses from Handel’s Messiah in 4-part harmony. The sheer joy and enthusiasm Barbara had in singing those alto lines makes my soul smile. I can still picture and hear her singing those bouncing melismas on the word “born” in “For Unto Us…”! Thank you, Barbara, for all the passion and love you brought to this world.
– Ginny Johnston
Like so many, my high school years weren’t the easiest. I struggled socially, battled crippling insecurity, and never quite knew where I fit in.
When I started as a cellist with NJYO, all of my “every day” worries and anxieties seemed to disappear. I was transported, if only for a few hours a week, into a world where I was really good at something, where I belonged, where my presence was important, essential even.
Barbara Barstow, or “Barbie” as my friends and I mischievously called her during rehearsal breaks, was more to me than a conductor. She was the harbinger of my true self in those otherwise confusing, tumultuous years. When I heard that first “A” of rehearsal, when her conductor’s baton first jaunted into the air, I came back home to myself. I was me again, the cellist, the girl who loved music and her instrument, the girl who was accepted for exactly who she was in orchestra, and never had to act a part to feel like I really belonged.
Mrs. Barstow challenged me, pushed me, made me realize that I had more potential to live up to, without taking away my confidence. She saw my talent and acknowledged it, and awakened me to the fact that I was destined for more. She was gentle and kind, yet unflinchingly true to her mission to mold us into the finest young musicians in the state. I wanted to impress her, to make her proud. Based on her unforgettable smile and warm presence, I know I did.
My time under her tutelage was my first experience, unknowingly, with meditation. To be a musician means being fully focused in the present moment, and Mrs. Barstow demanded that singular focus. I felt so happy in those hours, lost in the moment and the music. Everything else – every worry, every fear, every insecurity – disappeared, for a short time. Her energy, her smile, her booming voice urged me to focus, focus, focus. Meditation, so many years later, has found its way back into my life in a life-saving fashion, but I realize now that I have Mrs. Barstow to thank for my first real “practice” in mindfulness.
When I saw the news of her death, I was devastated, even though it has been many, many years since we’d last connected. She has touched my life in a way that I’m not sure she was ever even aware of, and I am so grateful that we crossed paths in such a meaningful way. Mrs. Barstow, thank you for the many gifts you bestowed upon my life, both musical and otherwise. I will always be endlessly grateful to you for believing in me, and for bringing out the truest, best version of myself when I needed it most.
With gratitude and love,
Lauren (Todaro) Kretzer (NJYO, ’96/’97/’98).