In 2006, a familiar figure to the Fort Collins Symphony, conductor and violinist Leslie Stewart, approached Scottish-born composer Jennifer Margaret Barker (b. 1965) with a special commission. At the time, Stewart served as director of the Virginia-based Bay Valley Youth Orchestras. In this role, she requested a piece for her young string-playing musicians to perform at the infamous Edinburgh Fringe Festival. The result? Barker’s Suilean a’Chloinne. The title of the work translates to “Children’s Eyes,” cluing in the listener to the composer’s thought process as she tried “to capture in music the beauty, innocence, wonder and joy that are so evident in the eyes of young children.”
Barker is currently Professor of Music Theory/Composition at the University of Delaware, though she still manages to spend a good deal of time back across the Atlantic in her beloved Scotland. It is from this homeland that she gains much of her inspiration. Many of Barker’s works have readily apparent Scottish associations, either through their Scottish-Gaelic titles, their programmatic themes, or a dedicated nod to the mysterious music of the highlands.
Program Notes by Dr. K. Dawn Grapes
Performed by the Fort Collins Symphony on their Celtic Fantasy virtual concert, March 2021, alongside Joan Trimble’s Suite for Strings, Jay Ungar’s Ashokan Farewell, Gaelic Storm’s An Irish Party in Third Class, Arthur Duff’s Irish Suite for Strings, Gwyneth Walker’s The Light of Three Mornings: Sketches of Braintree Hill, and Victor Herbert’s Yesterthoughts/Punchinello.