Edward Barnes came to national attention when, at the age of 22, his first opera, FEATHERTOP, was produced in New York by the American Opera Center. The NY Times called him "extraordinarily talented", the NY Daily News "a national treasure" and The Times of London "a composer of considerable lyric gift". That same year he became the youngest composer ever to win a prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship.
Mr. Barnes is a graduate of the Juilliard School in New York, and also studied in England as a scholarship student of Sir Peter Maxwell Davies at the Dartington Hall Summer Festival.
After graduating from Juilliard, Edward became Music Director of the First ACT Theater in NYC, an off-Broadway company that specialized in original new musicals for family audiences. Shortly thereafter, he moved to Lincoln Center Theater, where he was both Music Director and Composer for a new production of Shakespeare’s MACBETH at the Vivian Beaumont Theater, with a cast that included Maureen Anderman, Philip Anglim, Kelsey Grammar and Dana Ivey.
For the next several years, Edward worked mostly in opera, creating new works on commission from the Virginia Opera, Opera Company of Boston, MidWest Opera Theater and others. At the invitation of Imelda Marcos, Mayor of Manila and wife of the Philippine president, Edward became Composer-in-Residence of the newly formed Opera Company of the Philippines, living in Manila shortly before the downfall of the Marcos government.
Edward moved west to Los Angeles in the mid-1980s but continued to travel back and forth to NY, working on such projects as NEZHA STIRS UP THE SEA, a joint commission from First ACT Theater and the George Street Playhouse. He also continued his theater work in Los Angeles, creating scores and music directing productions at American Theater Arts, Megaw Theater, and Odyssey Theater. In 1986, he was asked to join the San Francisco Mime Troupe to create the score to SPAIN/36, a musical about the Spanish Civil War, which he music directed in the show's runs in both Los Angeles and San Francisco.
In 1987, Edward became a resident artist with the newly formed Los Angeles Opera, staying with the company for the next 5 years, creating new works, conducting and touring. His children’s opera, A MUSKRAT LULLABY, commissioned by L.A. Opera, was called “a hip new opera” by the L.A. Times and “an impressive sweep” by the L.A. Daily News and has since been produced by many other companies in the US, Great Britain and Australia. Another opera written for L.A. Opera, A PLACE TO CALL HOME, based on interviews Edward conducting with teen-aged refugees from El Salvador, Iran and Cambodia, was hailed as “sharply drawn” by the San Francisco Chronicle, and “appealing, exciting, and vivid” by the San Diego Union.
While living in California, Edward became a founding member of the Metro Ensemble, a new music-theater group for whom he created THE VAGABOND QUEEN, OLD AUNT DINAH'S SURE GUIDE TO DREAMS & LUCKY NUMBERS, and THE BONES OF LOVE. Bones and Old Aunt Dinah came to the attention of the Prince Musical Theater in Philadelphia, where the works were produced on a double bill in 1996. Called "a fusion of innate inventiveness” by the Philadelphia Inquirer and "a techno-musical-magical extravaganza" by the Philadelphia Reader, the production garnered 6 Barrymore Award nominations and won Edward the Stephen Sondheim Award for "outstanding talent in creating innovative musical theater”.
By the mid 1990's, Edward was living on two coasts, with homes in New York City and Los Angeles. He completed MYSTERY AT THE DOCKS, a joint commission from the L.A. Opera, Lyric Opera of Kansas City and Opera Columbus; PAPAGAYO, for the San Diego Opera; and MURDER AT THE OPERA, a revue commissioned jointly by Houston Grand Opera and L.A. Opera. He also wrote the score for PUNCH & JUDY GET DIVORCED, a Meet the Composer/Lila Wallace Foundation co-commission from the American Repertory Theater in Boston and the Prince Music Theater, written with David Gordon and Arnold Weinstein.
Since 2000, Edward's work has included a collaboration with Garrison Keillor, THE OLD MAN WHO LOVED CHEESE, produced by the Children's Theater Company of Minneapolis; THE HIDING TREE, a commission from NYC's Collegiate Chorale; music and arrangements for THE SPIRIT OF TEXACO; musical arrangements for the opening of the MTV 2000 MUSIC VIDEO AWARDS; a new arrangement of "He's Got The Whole World In His Hands" for soprano Kathleen Battle; and musical scores to Jonathan Wilson's KILT, at the Director's Company in NYC, and Thorton Wilder's OUR TOWN at the Bay Street Theater in Sag Harbor, NY. In 2003, he became the Special Projects Producer for the Collegiate Chorale, working with actor/director Roger Rees and conductor Robert Bass on numerous Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center presentations, including Scott Joplin's TREEMONISHA in concert, the NY premieres of THE JUNIPER TREE by Philip Glass and THE WHITE HOUSE CANTATA by Leonard Bernstein and Alan Jay Lerner, as well as the premiere live concert performance of film composer John Barry's Academy Awarding-winning score to A LION IN WINTER, an evening hosted by Timothy Dalton.
Edward Barnes now lives in New York City. Find out more about him at www.edwbarnes.com