Praised by the New York Times for his “Lisztian thunder and deft fluidity,” and the San Francisco Chronicle as “ferociously virtuosic,” pianist Paul Barnes has electrified audiences with his intensely expressive playing and cutting-edge programming. He has been featured four times on APM’s Performance Today and on the cover of Clavier Magazine and his recordings are broadcast worldwide. He has performed in England, China, Korea, Taiwan, Austria, Russia, Greece, Italy, Serbia, Hungary, and in all major cities throughout the US.
Deeply inspired by the aesthetic challenge of minimalism, Barnes commissioned and gave the world premier performance of Philip Glass’s Piano Concerto No. 2 (After Lewis and Clark. The Omaha World Herald praised Barnes playing for his “driving intensity and exhilaration.” Nebraska Educational Telecommunications' production "The Lewis and Clark Concerto," a documentary/performance of the concerto featuring Barnes, won an Emmy for Best Performance Production. Additional performances included collaborations with conductor Marin Alsop at the prestigious Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music and also the Northwest Chamber Orchestra where the Seattle Times called Barnes' performance "an impressive feat." The world-premier recording with the NWCO was released by Orange Mountain Music. Gramophone Magazine remarked that this recording is "certainly one of the most enjoyable recent releases of Glass's music...Paul Barnes is a shining soloist."
Orange Mountain Music also released Barnes' recording of his transcriptions from the operas of Philip Glass, including both the Trilogy Sonata and the Orphée Suite for Piano. Gramophone Magazine observed that “Barnes offers a surprisingly expressive reading…. Atmosphere and rhythmic vitality are important, and these qualities Barnes has in abundance.” The American Record said "Barnes is an expressive pianist with a lovely tone and a flair for the dramatic." New York critic Joseph Dalton described Barnes' playing of the Glass transcriptions as "atmospheric and elegant," while San Francisco critic Michael McDonagh hailed Barnes' performance as "remarkably effective, highly expressive.” The Trilogy Sonata and the Orphée Suite for Piano are published by Chester Music of London and are available at sheetmusicplus.com. Barnes' eleventh CD, The American Virtuoso, featuring the music of Philip Glass, Samuel Barber, and Joan Tower was released on Orange Mountain Music to much critical acclaim. The American Record Guide wrote, "Another fine release from the amazing pianist Paul Barnes...with a pianist like this, new American music is in good hands."
Barnes also serves as head chanter at Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church in Lincoln where his fascination with Byzantine chant led to a commissioned piano concerto Ancient Keys written by Victoria Bond based on a Greek chant. The world-premier recording of this concerto as well as Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue was released on Albany Records.
With performances throughout Europe, the Near East, the Far East, and the U.S., Barnes' unique lecture/recitals have received international acclaim. Liszt and the Cross: Music as Sacrament in the B Minor Sonata explores the fascinating relationship between music, theology, and the Orthodox icon. Barnes' live recording of this lecture recital was recently released on the Liszt Digital label. The British Society Newsletter reviewed the recording and wrote that Barnes was “a fine pianist and gives us a performance of resounding conviction.” Clavier Magazine wrote "It is a majestic, reverential performance that elevates listeners to the sacred experience Barnes so eloquently desribes in the lecture."
Barnes is Marguerite Scribante Professor of Music at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Glenn Korff School of Music. He teaches during the summer at the Vienna International Piano Academy and also coaches the students of Menahem Pressler, Barnes' own teacher, at Indiana University where Barnes received his doctorate in Piano Performance. In great demand as a pedagogue and clinician, Barnes has served as convention artist at several state MTNA conventions and was recently named "Teacher of the Year" by the Nebraska Music Teachers Association. Barnes also teaches and performs regularly at the famed Amalfi Coast Festival in Italy.
Barnes twelfth CD New Generations: The New Etudes of Philip Glass and Music of the Next Generation has received rave reviews. Gramophone Magazine wrote of New Generations, "Pianists of Barnes's great technique and musicality are a boon to new music." And American Record Guide commented, "This disc provides further proof of Barnes's ability to communicate new music with flair and passion." Produced by Glass's label Orange Mountain Music, the recording features a selection of Glass's etudes juxtaposed with works by N. Lincoln Hanks, Lucas Floyd, Jason Bahr, Zack Stanton, Ivan Moody, and Jonah Gallagher. The sonic result is a breathtaking panorama of the energetic and expressive landscape that is twenty-first century piano music.
In celebration of twenty years of collaboration, Barnes is commissioning Philip Glass to write a piano quintet to be premiered with the Chiara Quartet in April of 2018. Entitled Piano Quintet No.1 Evangelismos (Annunciation), the quintet will be based on Greek Orthodox hymns for the Annunciation of the Theotokos. Barnes' recordings are available on Pandora, ITunes, YouTube, and Amazon.