When you explore my Mapping the Legacy, Highlights, Oral Histories, and Curated Life Review, you will learn about my work during forty years of being a freelance musician. At the encouragement of Jac Ford, the co-teacher of the workshop I took at HB Studio in NYC to prepare this site and my eventual fellow/collaborator, I have included not just my experience in the theatre, but also other music work I have done. Just know that in addition to what I have listed, highlighted, and spoken about, I played piano for many a wedding, church service (most notably as Assistant Organist at The Presbyterian Church of Hagerstown when I was in high school, my first paid music job, and as substitute pianist quite frequently at St. Mark’s Church In-The-Bowery in NYC), school chorus performance, audition, voice/instrumental lesson (The Presbyterian Church of Hagerstown, The University of Texas at Austin, Wittenberg University, Schreiner University, private studio of Stephanie Samaras, NYU), and murder mystery (for LilyGild). I have taught piano and theory to many a student and acted as vocal coach for many an actor. I have transposed and transcribed many a song for individuals. And I played piano for years in the Park Restaurant at the Holiday Inn Northwest in Austin, Texas.
BARBARA IRVINE was a freelance musician for nearly 40 years. She had one foot in the classical music world and one foot in the world of theatre throughout her career. While living in Austin, Texas, she won the Austin Chamber Music Center’s Sesquicentennial Composition Award for her woodwind quintet and she won the Austin Circle of Theater’s B. Iden Payne Award for Best Musical Direction for her work on the musical Baby. She performed Bach with the Austin Chamber Orchestra and Carl Maria von Weber with the Austin Heritage Chamber Ensemble, while also playing show tunes at the Holiday Inn and other venues. During her 15 years in New York City, she performed solo classical piano concerts under the auspices of The Other Side of Broadway and was assistant conductor for productions as diverse as Die Fledermaus and Jesus Christ Superstar. As a music transcriber Barbara has created scores from recordings of guitar licks for a bluegrass musician in Austin, piano parts for a show by Yoko Ono, and piano/vocal sheets for Cy Coleman.
A native of Hagerstown, Maryland, Barbara attended Winter Street School, Salem Avenue Elementary School, Washington Street Junior High, and North Hagerstown High School. From the ages of 8 to 17, she studied piano privately with Julia Belle Westphal. She also took art classes at the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts, taught by Clyde Roberts. In addition to her interests in music and art, Barbara considered careers in medicine and the diplomatic service while she was in junior high and high school. She applied to and was accepted by Wittenberg University in Springfield, Ohio, when she was a junior (early acceptance) at North High, from which she graduated in 1964 (Academic Diploma). In her second week at Wittenberg, she chose music over math as her major and earned a B. Music degree in applied piano in 1968.
William R. Walters was her piano professor at Wittenberg. In the summer of 1967 she studied with Leonard Shure, Walters’s former teacher, at Harvard Summer School. After graduating from Wittenberg, she did graduate work in music at The University of Texas at Austin, where she continued to study with Shure. She later studied with Danielle Martin and David Renner at U.T. Other piano teachers include Eunice Norton, Bradford Gowen, and Marc Silverman. Barbara left graduate school in 1970 and had a six-year career in higher education administration. During those years, she earned a MBA in general business from St. Edward’s University in Austin (1974). She became a full-time freelance musician in 1978.
Barbara has given solo classical recitals in the United States and Europe, and has played for or music directed musical theatre productions on both continents. She has worked with/for: composers Cy Coleman (Sweet Charity, The Will Rogers Follies), Robert Waldman (The Robber Bridegroom), Yoko Ono (New York Rock), Charles Strouse (Annie, Bye Bye Birdie), Harvey Schmidt (The Fantasticks, I Do, I Do) and Earl Wilson, Jr. (Let My People Come); orchestrators David Cullen and Michael Starobin; and stars Denise Lor, Julie Wilson, Helen Gallagher, Rebecca Luker, Patrick Cassidy, Michael Crawford, Sarah Brightman, and many more. In October of 1995 she performed the world premiere of Charles Strouse’s Concerto for Piano and Orchestra with the Maryland Symphony Orchestra in Hagerstown, Maryland, Barry Tuckwell conducting, and in 2000 presented a piano concert of classical music by theatre composers at Wilson College, joined by pianist Bradford Gowen and composer Charles Strouse. Barbara is the founder of The Other Side of Broadway, a concert project devoted to the presentation and preservation of the classical music of theatre composers.
Barbara is a member of the American Federation of Musicians – Local 802, the Dramatists Guild of America, and the Edwin Forrest Society of The Actors Fund of America. She is a past member of The League of Professional Theatre Women and the American Federation of Musicians – Local 433 and Local 161-710. She currently lives in Maryland where she is writing her memoirs.
[Note: Hard copies of my memorabilia can be found at the following locations. The Austin History Center, Austin, Texas: AR.2021.016 Barbara Irvine Papers - Programs, newsletters, articles, and more from my music and theatre work in Texas. New York Public Library for the Performing Arts - 1. Hard copies of programs, postcards, flyers, and press from The Other Side of Broadway can be found in the Research Division (3rd floor), clippings files, call number “M-Clippings (Other Side of Broadway)”. 2. Hard copies of newsletters from The Other Side of Broadway can be found in the periodicals section of the Music Division. Western Maryland Room of the Washington County Free Library, Hagerstown, Maryland: Barbara Irvine Collection - Programs and other memorabilia from my childhood, college years, non-music work in Texas and elsewhere, and show business career in NYC.]