An essential element of the Chorale is the accompanying orchestra, whose talented members add so much to the Mass. One of the favorite musicians is our percussionist, Lawrence “Larry” Barnhart, who is also a gifted French Horn player.
After undergraduate studies at the Capital University, Columbus, Ohio, Barnhart went on to do graduate work at the Cleveland Institute of Music. His first professional work was with the Columbus Symphony Orchestra from which he advanced to the Cleveland Philharmonic Orchestra and the American Wind Symphony. In 1966 during the time of the Vietnam War, he learned of an opportunity in the US Army Band. As the story goes, he had very little time to make the audition and quickly travelled eight hours to Washington, D.C. He was offered the 4th Horn position! Additionally, as a member of the US Army Band, he was granted top White House Secret Service clearance.
After three years in the US Army Band, Barnhart moved to New York City. While there, he heard that the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra was hearing auditions for the 2nd Horn position. He played very well at the audition, including the last minute request to play the outrageous 2nd Horn part to Haydn’s “Oxford” Symphony. He was offered the job and moved to St. Paul, Minnesota. Coincidentally, that was in 1969, the same year Father Richard J. Schuler became pastor of Saint Agnes Parish. Always learning, Barnhart began studying under Jack Moore of the Minnesota Orchestra and then assumed the position of auxiliary percussionist with the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra. Still in the Chamber Orchestra and yet knowing nothing about the music program at Saint Agnes, Barnhart embarked on a State Department sponsored tour of Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. Returning early on a Sunday morning from the exhausting venture, Barnhart received an unexpected phone call at 10:10 a.m. from the Saint Agnes choir loft. The current percussionist did not show up for the 10:00 a.m. Latin High Mass. Quickly, he put on a suit and was climbing the stairs to the choir loft as the first movement of the Paukenmesse was playing. Having performed that Mass with the SPCO, he was able to complete the music and received a complimentary “very nice” from Father Schuler. The job with the Chorale was now his. After subsequent performances, Father Schuler thanked him again for “all the noise.”
Barnhart says: “I feel fortunate to have a life as a musician.” As a freelance instrumentalist, Barnhart has played in churches, Broadway shows, wind ensembles, chamber orchestras and bands. In addition, he has trained himself to repair and maintain percussion instruments, including those of the Chorale.
Thank you Lawrence Barnhart for your continuing efforts in maintaining the excellence of the Twin Cities Catholic Chorale.