LAWRENCE — After 41 years of directing bands and teaching music at the University of Kansas School of Music, world-renowned musician and composer James Barnes will retire this spring. To honor him, the school has launched a campaign to raise $250,000 for KU band student scholarships and to name a rehearsal room on the first floor of Murphy Hall in honor of Barnes.
Barnes conducted KU bands for 27 years before transitioning to teaching music theory and composition full-time. His compositions, including eight symphonies and three concertos, have been performed at prestigious concert halls, including Tchaikovsky Concert Hall in Moscow, Carnegie Hall in New York City and the Tokyo Metropolitan Theatre Concert Hall.
“Every school day I drive by the Lied Center on Irving Hill Drive, cross the bridge and head down to the Allen Fieldhouse parking garage,” Barnes said. “At the crest of the hill, the view of KU is spectacular, especially in the morning sun. This view is a constant reminder of how blessed I have been to be a part of this wonderful university for such a long time. KU is my alma mater; I have spent my entire professional life here.”
School of Music Dean Robert Walzel praised Barnes.
“From the first day he entered KU as a wide-eyed freshman music major from Hobart, Oklahoma, Jim Barnes has proven himself to be exceptional,” Walzel said. “His musical compositions are performed with regularity around the world. As an alumnus, he has made KU proud. As a faculty member, he has served the School of Music and his students with distinction. As he moves into the next phase of his career as professor emeritus, I am sure he will continue to be a respected ambassador for music and Jayhawks everywhere.”
“Representing this school and teaching and advising so many fine students over the past 41 years has been an unforgettable and satisfying experience, one that I shall always cherish. The proposal by the School of Music to rename one of the rehearsal rooms with my name is not only a surprise, but also a great honor,” Barnes said.
Paul Popiel, director of KU Bands, said, “Jim Barnes is one of the legendary figures in the band world, and his legacy at KU is an important part of our history. I am thrilled to launch the campaign to name Rehearsal Room 118 for Mr. Barnes, to help us share his contributions to the KU Bands with future generations of Jayhawks.”
Matthew Smith, associate director of bands, and director of the Marching Jayhawks, spoke highly of his colleague. “Jim has sealed his legacy throughout the band community both here and abroad, but his greatest contribution has been on our great band program at KU and the countless students that he has impacted through his teaching, conducting and music."
To date, $70,000 has been raised for this School of Music campaign. Gifts to any band fund count toward the goal. Contributions may be made online.
The gifts count toward Far Above: The Campaign for Kansas, the university’s comprehensive fundraising campaign. Far Above seeks support to educate future leaders, advance medicine, accelerate discovery and drive economic growth to seize the opportunities of the future.
The campaign is managed by KU Endowment, the independent, nonprofit organization serving as the official fundraising and fund-management organization for KU. Founded in 1891, KU Endowment was the first foundation of its kind at a U.S. public university.
Photo credit: Jon Robichaud.