PSU plans concert to honor noted late local composer

Special to the Morning Sun
news@morningsun.net
Barbara York

PITTSBURG, Kan. — A concert honoring the late Barbara York, an internationally renowned composer and musician who lived in Pittsburg and worked at Pittsburg State University, will be held July 10 at 7 p.m. in the Bicknell Family Center for the Arts. 

York lost her battle with pulmonary fibrosis last year at age 71. She recently was awarded a lifetime achievement award from the International Tuba-Euphonium Association — their highest honor. 

Musicians from across the country will perform in the free public concert, including: 

PSU music faculty Joanne Britz, assistant professor of woodwinds-single reeds, Raul Munguia, director of orchestras and professor of violin/viola, and Denissa Rivas, lecturer of flute and music theory at PSU; vocalist Stella (Hastings) Sheia; Gail Robertson, assistant professor of tuba and euphonium/jazz at the University of Central Arkansas; Dawn McConkie, professor of music (clarinet and saxophone) at Emporia State University; Tom Stein, associate professor of euphonium and tuba at the University of Missouri - Kansas City; Travis Scott, assistant professor of low brass and music theory at Xavier University of Louisiana; and AJ Beu, music educator for Wichita Public Schools. 

The program will include many of York’s most popular works, including: 

Movement 2 from Spiral Road; Elegy for an Angel; A Caged Bird; Movement 4 from Sonata for Clarinet and Piano; For Beth, My One and Only; Measuring Time; Movements 3 and 4 from the 2nd Sonata for Euphonium; How Beautiful; Dear Enemy from Colette; Movement 2 from Sonata for Bassoon; and Montreal Suite.

Many musicians say she changed the landscape of music for those who play low brass — instruments often relegated to depict large mammals while the musicians who played them sat in the back row. Doctoral students have been basing their theses on her compositions. Several of her pieces have become standard repertoire in the world’s top music schools and conservatories, including a top Harvey Phillips composition prize from the International Tuba Euphonium Association. And locally, the SEK Symphony, the PSU Wind Ensemble, and other PSU groups have performed several of her works at the Bicknell Center.  

“It’s as if she gave us permission to play beautiful melodies and invited audiences to enjoy them,” said Beu, who is a PSU alumnus. “She revealed potentials and built confidence in each of us and made many, many fine artists through her inspiration."