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A Sneak Peek of Two Barlow Endowment Anniversary Pieces

Forty years ago in September 1983, Milton and Gloria Barlow established the Barlow Endowment for Music Composition for the BYU School of Music. Because composers are not always performers, directors, or conductors, Milton and Gloria created the endowment to allow composers to showcase their pieces in an annual competition.

This semester, the School of Music dedicated a unique lineup of concerts to the Barlow Endowment’s 40th anniversary. These concerts featured faculty, ensembles, and guest artists like Lara Downes and the Mivos Quartet. Let’s take an inside look at some of the pieces featured in the celebration.

“Hymn of the Pearl”

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Photo by BYU Photo (2023)

Dr. Kevin Anthony composed “Hymn of the Pearl” for the celebration of the Barlow Endowment anniversary. The song is a choral work, and Dr. Anthony drew upon the apocryphal text in the Acts of Thomas to tell the narrative of a prince on a journey to retrieve a pearl. Along the way, the prince forgets who he is, and his parents help remind him. Dr. Anthony’s goal with “Hymn of the Pearl” is to guide the listeners through an emotional experience and “to connect listeners with the comforting presence of loving Heavenly Parents and the guiding light of Christ in their lives.”

The piece is a representation of BYU and the Barlow Endowment, and Dr. Anthony is grateful that he had the chance to compose for the special, meaningful concert, saying, “It's an honor to contribute to the legacy of the Barlow Endowment through this commission. . . . Being part of an event that celebrates new music and supports the discovery of unique musical expressions is incredibly fulfilling.”

“It's an honor to contribute to the legacy of the Barlow Endowment through this commission.”
Dr. Kevin Anthony

On February 7, the BYU Singers premiered the piece. Dr. Anthony remarks, “[Dr. Crane and BYU Singers’] dedication, passion, and talent brought a new dimension to my music. . . . Their hard work truly brings my music to life, for which I am deeply grateful.”

“the color of where you can never go”

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Photo by Diane Reich

Dr. Diane Reich performed a seven-song cycle of “the color of where you can never go” by Christopher Trapani, who won the Barlow Prize with this piece in 2020. Dr. Reich connects with this piece because she judged the competition that chose this composer as the winner of the Barlow Prize. The song focuses on the color blue—it explores ideas of distance, loss, perception, and moving emotion. When Dr. Reich performed the piece, the poetic lyrics were projected on screens in the Concert Hall so listeners could read along and have a deeper experience with the piece.

“Nothing touches me as deeply as music that is coupled with words that are sacred.”
Dr. Diane Reich

Many people—composers, directors, performers, and more—have put their souls into the Barlow Endowment’s 40th anniversary celebration. “This is a culmination of years of work for [each] composer, and months of work for the performers. . . . [It] was rewarding to . . . express something that the composer envisioned,” says Dr. Reich. Music has power, and that is why the legacy of the Barlow Endowment strongly lives on. Dr. Reich expresses that, like many others, “nothing touches [her] as deeply as music that is coupled with [sacred] words.”

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