Praised by the New York Times for his “Lisztian thunder and deft fluidity,” and the San Francisco Chronicle as “ferociously virtuosic,” pianist Paul Barnes has electrified audiences with his intensely expressive playing and cutting-edge programming. He has been featured four times on APM’s Performance Today and on the cover of Clavier Magazine. He has recently performed in England, China, Korea, Russia, Czech Republic, Austria, and Greece and in all major cities throughout the US.
Deeply inspired by the aesthetic challenge of minimalism, Barnes gave the world premier performance of Philip Glass’s Piano Concerto No. 2 (After Lewis and Clark) with the Omaha Symphony Orchestra under Victor Yampolsky. The Omaha World Herald praised Barnes for his “driving intensity and exhilaration.” Nebraska Educational Telecommunications’ television production “The Lewis and Clark Concerto” a documentary/performance of the concerto featuring Barnes won an Emmy and Best Performance Production award. At a performance of the concerto in Boston, the Boston Globe praised Barnes for his "strong and sympathetic performance" while the Boston Herald remarked "Barnes sailed through the concerto with authority." Additional performances of the concerto included collaborations with conductor Marin Alsop at the prestigious Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music and also the Northwest Chamber Orchestra where the Seattle Times called Barnes' performance "an impressive feat." The world-premier recording with the NWCO was released by Orange Mountain Music in September of 2006. Gramophone Magazine remarked that this recording is “certainly one of the most enjoyable recent releases of Glass’s music…Paul Barnes is a shining soloist.”
Orange Mountain Music also released Barnes' solo recording of his transcriptions from the operas of Philip Glass, including both the Trilogy Sonata and the Orphée Suite for Piano. Gramophone Magazine observed that “Barnes offers a surprisingly expressive reading…. Atmosphere and rhythmic vitality are important, and these qualities Barnes has in abundance.” The American Record Guide said "Barnes is an expressive pianist with a lovely tone and a flair for the dramatic.” Both the Trilogy Sonata and the Orphée Suite for Piano are published by Chester-Novello of London and are available at musicroom.com.
With performances throughout Europe, the Near East, the Far East, and the U.S., Barnes' unique lecture/recitals have received international acclaim. Liszt and the Cross: Music as Sacrament in the B Minor Sonata explores the fascinating relationship between music, theology, and the Orthodox icon. Barnes' live recording of this lecture recital was recently released on the Liszt Digital label. Paul Schoemaker of the British Society Newsletter wrote that Barnes was “a fine pianist and gives us a performance of resounding conviction.” Janice Weber of Clavier Magazine remarked that "It is a majestic, reverential performance that elevates listeners to the sacred experience Barnes so eloquently describes in his lecture."
Recently elected to the national board of the American Liszt Society, Barnes hosted the 2005 ALS festival at the University of Nebraska Lincoln. The festival's theme was Heaven on Earth: Exploring the Sacred in Music and featured Liszt's monumental oratorio Christus.
Barnes is Professor and Co-chair of Piano at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln School of Music. He teaches during the summer at the Bösendorfer International Piano Academy in Vienna and also coaches the students of Menahem Pressler, Barnes' own teacher, at Indiana University where Barnes received his doctorate in Piano Performance. In great demand as a pedagogue and clinician, Barnes has served as convention artist at several state MTNA conventions. He was named ‘Teacher of the Year” by the Nebraska Music Teachers Association at their 2006 state convention. Barnes recently returned from China and Korea where he performed and taught as part of his spring 2007 sabbatical leave. His eleventh CD “The American Virtuoso” featuring the music of Philip Glass, Samuel Barber, and Joan Tower was released in February of 2008 to much critical acclaim.