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The Antelope

Conductor brings passion to podium


Barg picks pieces with energy to kick of KSO ‘17 – ‘18 season

Sydney Norris

Antelope staff

David Barg did not start conducting until he was 40, but the podium is now his sacred place, where the music becomes greater than the sum of its parts.

Barg, originally from New York, is the new conductor of the Kearney Symphony Orchestra (KSO), a blended group of community members and student musicians.  He says he has started off the fall semester with an open mind and a yearning to bring passion from the fingertips of musicians to the hearts of the listeners.

Through his travels far and wide, Barg has had the pleasure of conducting for symphonies across the globe: “I have conducted youth orchestras and elementary school orchestras and regional orchestras like KSO and professional orchestras,” Barg said. “I have done that in 50 cities and 30 states and in Russia and Australia and Ecuador.”

Barg’s journey of conducting first began at the age of 40, when he started conducting with a small group of instrumentalists. He quickly moved up the ladder as his symphonies and audiences increased. As Barg’s ability to move an entire orchestra into a state of harmony with the simplest technique was noticed, his connections grew along with his knowledge and audience. 

“I started conducting at age 40, it all happens through people. Somebody heard me and said I’d like you to conduct this orchestra,” Barg Said. “I was studying Russian with some Russian musician friends in New York, and one of them said, ‘I’d like you to meet this woman who sends American conductors to Russia.’ Because they like my work, they knew I was Russian from my grandparents.”

His knowledge of five languages has carried him on his path of conducting. Barg comes from a family that for generations upon generations, lived in Russia. When arriving in Russia, Barg felt at home and knew he would be visiting again.

As Barg’s audience grew, so did his desire to share his knowledge. After running into a fellow conductor at a music festival, he learned that other teachers and conductors wanted to learn his techniques.

Barg is currently in the process of writing a book, “Ignite Response,” for conductors at all levels called. Barg plans for the book to become available in 2018.  He says his hope for helping conductors is to teach them how to engage their students while gaining confidence.

“I have a passion for helping young people, to use the ensemble experience to help young people build confidence and to take risks,” Barg said. “I feel like I am making a contribution to a lot of people and not only a lot of people but teachers as well.”

Barg’s advice for the youth of today is to find meaning in relationships, as those will be what get you far in life. “In your loose-leaf notebook of life, make the first section about positive, supportive, purposeful relationships,” Barg said. 

Barg wants youth to find their passions and to continue them with confidence: “I have conducted hundreds and hundreds of youth orchestras and every time, it is a chance to help people become more confident,” Barg said.  “That is important to me because I waited until I was 40 to start conducting because I didn’t have any confidence.”

David Barg’s personal mantra, “It is always now,” reflects his in-the-moment attitude.  The new KSO director looks forward to the many good moments UNK has to offer.

David Mueller

Video at the Antelope

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