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   from the issue of April 14, 2005

Barnes brings Liszt Festival to Nebraska


Excuse the unabashed giddiness encompassing Paul Barnes.

Paul Barnes, associate professor in the school of music plays a portion of Via Crucis. Photo by Troy Fedderson/University...
 Paul Barnes, associate professor in the school of music plays a portion of Via Crucis. Photo by Troy Fedderson/University Communications.

After months of preparation and practice, the associate professor for music has drawn over 100 members of the American Liszt Society to campus for the group's annual spring festival. Their three-day mission - which runs today through Saturday - is to study, discuss and savor the music of composer Franz Liszt.

"I am incredibly excited on every possible level of my existence," Barnes said. "All of my dear friends are coming to see me at a school that I am very proud of."

The music of Liszt has always been an inspiration to Barnes, who has spoken at a variety of institutions around the world, offering his views on religious symbolism in Liszt's music.

Barnes even outlined the concept in his doctoral dissertation, focusing only on Liszt's Sonata in B Minor (1853).

"Liszt understood music to be a type of sacrament, a vehicle for the grace of God," Barnes said, briefly outlining Liszt's use of a cross motive in his music. "That idea fascinated me."

While it has not grown to the point of a crusade, Barnes says he sees Liszt as a type of musical missionary.

"It has this wonderful genie oblige (obligation of genius)," Barnes said. "Liszt believed if you are gifted as an artist, you have a moral obligation to work for the betterment of society.

"That is an exciting idea, and one that fuels me."

Elected to the American Liszt Society's national board three years ago, Barnes jumped at the chance to bring the spring festival to UNL. While it surrounds him with friends, Barnes said it is also a unique way to showcase UNL's facilities and talent, possibly helping with student recruitment.

"This has an amazing recruiting potential because it is such an exciting, unique event," Barnes said. "We are bringing in a group of amazing kids from California and we have some of the most important piano teachers in the country coming to UNL. And, each of them is looking for places to send their kids.

"This will really be an important three days for the university."

He credited university officials for their support in bringing the festival to UNL.

The festival has also taken on special meaning, as Barnes will play Via Crucis, a Liszt work centered on the 14 Stations of the Cross. Via Crucis is the same piece Pope John Paul II was reportedly meditating on at the time of his death.

"I was practicing Via Crucis when I heard the pope was meditating on the same thing," Barnes said. "It is just kind of a bizarre coincidence. But, we are dedicating the performance to his memory."

Barnes will play Via Crucis on the piano 8 p.m. Friday at First-Plymouth Congregational Church, 2000 D St. Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for students, and available at the door or by calling 476-9933.

The festival begins today with the piano recital "Heaven on Earth: Exploring the Sacred in Music" at 7:30 p.m. in Kimball Recital Hall. Internationally renowned pianists will play works by Bach, Liszt, Messaien and Rachmaninoff. Tickets are $5 general admission, $3 students/senior citizens and are available at the door.

The festival wraps up Sunday with Liszt's Christus, an oratorio on texts from Holy Scripture and the Catholic liturgy, at 7:30 p.m. in the Lied Center.

Christus will be the premier performance of a new, historically accurate, edition by David Friddle of the Frost School of Music.

Performing the piece will be the UNL symphony orchestra, university singers, university chorale, varsity men's chorus, concert choir and collegiate chorus. Soloists will be Ariel Bybee, William Shomos, Darcy Jo Pearcy, Jamie Reimer, Lance Hedlund and Jeff Keele.

"It is going to be a massive event," Barnes said. "And, this will be a way for us to showcase the fact that we have a lot of talented students here, from all over the world, at UNL."

Tickets to Christus are available through the Lied Center box office, 472-4747. Prices range from $19 to $29 for general reserved seats, and $9.50 to $14.50 for students/youth.



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