OPUS Faculty: Patricia Barnes, a Seasoned Musician


Patricia Barnes conducting a handbell choir rehearsal at the OPUS Music Camp

We are so honored that Mrs. Patricia Barnes is a member of the OPUS Faculty. She is a seasoned, well-rounded musician with specialties in piano, organ, handbell conducting, and chamber music coaching. She is also a wonderful human being.

We cannot say enough good things about Pattie. She always finds a nice way to get your attention.  She shows great dedication by “efficiently using her time” and “continually improving.” In a quiet corner, one often spots her with music in front, thinking what to do better. It could be her music: markings, expressions, explanations, her communications; hardware: settings, projections, logistics; or showmanship.

Pattie Barnes conducting the Junior Camp handbell choir in the Campers’ Final Concert

She is a great conductor to watch in addition to listening to her excellently delivered music. She always looks “so confident” with an eye-catching grin on stage or in classrooms. Her conducting style is very clear, precise, and graceful. She is also a problem-solver and a wonderful team-player. She would go out of her way to help whenever she can.

Handbells teach rhythm, listening, and watching the other musicians in an electric and fun way. There is no hiding, everyone is important! In her own words: “Playing handbells is an intriguing adventure, and it will be an invigorating and uplifting class. Explore the style, technique, and artistry that it takes to make a beautiful sound with handbells. The OPUS atmosphere is like a greenhouse for growing beautiful music, and more importantly, growing beautiful people. The bonus aspects of composition and improvisation enrich greatly, and the door is sprung wide open for young musicians explore further in our musical galaxy. It catalyzes lasting changes in the young musician’s instrumental finesse.” What a way with beautiful words!

Pattie Barnes is professional and a real person in classroom

Mrs. Barnes is well-loved by her faculty peers, teaching assistants, and students. She has a great way of expressing things in receptive words. People would want to share more ideas and suggestions with her because she is generous in giving compliments. She is never shy in her vocabulary on finding grateful words that wonderfully express “Great Job!” and appreciation which recipients love to hear.

Mrs. Barnes is currently enjoying the completion of 26 years as organist and director of handbell ensembles at First United Methodist Church in Downers Grove. OPUS is really fortunate to have the strongest possible faculty team with professionals like Patricia Barnes to give our students a wonderful musical experience.

My Musical World: the Perspective of Camper/Teaching Assistant Brandon J.

Brandon J. playing for an OPUS Exhibit and in an OPUS Chamber Music Camp concert (2nd violin in Brandenburg)

As a composer and orchestrator, the kind of work I receive is anything from singer-songwriter arrangements to symphonic works to editing books for musicals. The knowledge needed to accurately do whatever tasks are at hand is crucial. I have written for many different situations: short films, recording sessions, musicals, and even concertos. Each setting requires a different set of ears and a different set of sounds. This is where learning comes into play. I love to learn new things, or learn more about what interests me. As musicians, we keep learning, but we also HAVE to keep learning and expanding our range. I am what many may call a crossover violinist, or a contemporary violinist. I have played, do play, and absolutely adore classical music, but I also play and listen to many other styles of music, including R&B, Hip-Hop, Rock, Metal, Christian Worship, Gospel, etc. I decided about 4 years ago to take the knowledge I had from writing in all of these styles and applying them on violin. I recently went to the Five Week Summer Immersive Camp at Berklee College of Music in Boston, and I fell in love with the school. I am able to write, learn, and play in just about every genre known to man.

As a performer, this goes deeper than knowledge.While a person is performing, he/she is conveying a message of importance to the listener. If I play every passage of “Winter” by Vivaldi technically correct, but I do not convey anything, then my audience has lost interest. This is why classical music is failing. Too many musicians are not “performing”, but playing. When the band, Metallica, goes to play a show, not only is the music good, but each member is obviously having a lot of fun. This is my goal as a violinist. I play with a bunch of facial expressions and I emote through the music. I move and smile and give faces, nodding my head asthe beat continues. I am constantly thinking about the music being played and the music being transferred from me to the audience.

Brandon J.’s peer campers playing his composition in Arts Connections Showcase in August of 2016

One of the most important compliments I’ve ever gotten was at an Opus Chamber Music Camp Showcase, where I played a piece I wrote for piano and strings. A TA came up to me and asked if I ever wanted to score films, because my music was full of emotion and vision. That compliment 3 years ago changed my career path for good. I soon after pursued composition and learned all I could, landing me a scholarship at the Berklee College of Music for Composition and Film Score.

Brandon J. in his 1st of the four OPUS Chamber Music Camp Final Concerts

Listen to one of Brandon J.’s composition at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=th0n8enbn4o.