Eric Barnum, graduate from the University of Washington, Seattle, is a composer from America.
He was born on March 15, 1979 and continues to compose music to this day. He has a total of twenty five published pieces written for all types of choirs. Eric Barnum is a very special composer because he represents Minnesota. He grew up in Crookston, Minnesota and studied composition and vocal performance at Bemidji State University. He then went onto study composition in further depth at Minnesota State University in 2004. Finally in 2013, Eric Barnum went to the state of Washington to study with Dr.
Geoffrey Boers. While there, he received his DMA (Doctor of Musical Arts) in Choral Conducting. While growing up, Eric Barnum was set on becoming an archaeologist but he left his dream and instead studied graphic design for a period of time. He actually didn’t begin to compose music until he was 21 years old.
Music was obviously not the path he had aspired to follow but once he started to study it in 2002 at Bemidji, his talent began to show through tremendously. Barnum is now the current director at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh. He also guest conducts sometimes for high schools, professional choirs, and colleges. The first piece of Eric Barnum’s that I wanted to share was his piece called “Sweetheart of the Sun.” I chose this piece because it was taken from the story in the Bible about Ruth and Boaz. With this song Eric Barnum brings the story to life of how Boaz took Ruth in to help her. This piece stands out to me because it has the Bible reference but it also stands out to me because it has all these beautiful crescendos and decrescendos.
“Sweetheart of the Sun” makes me think about Bible times and how amazing God’s glory is. “Sweetheart of the Sun” is written for SATB and is A Cappella. The composition is slow and is somewhat sad sounding. It is not however supposed to be a sad song but instead a love song. The lyrics demonstrate this quality of the song. The piece is written in English. Eric Barnum took the lyrics from a 19th century poem by Thomas Hood. Thomas Hood was inspired by the love story of Ruth and Boaz to write his poem.
Eric Barnum then took those words and created an elegant reflection to help people remember the story. As he once said, “If there is one thing that all of my pieces have in common is that they tell a story.” The second piece I chose to study of Eric Barnum’s is called “A Red, Red Rose.” I chose this piece because it was different from what I’m used to in that it is written for TTBB.
The fact that this piece is written for men was what made it stand out to me. “A Red, Red Rose” lyrics were taken from a poem written by a Scottish man by the name of Robert Burns. It is about a man describing his undying love to, of course, the love of his life. This song makes me think about tragic love stories from the 1800s and 1900s.
I think about the titanic, WW1, and other similar events. These were the events where the man and woman were separated but professed their love to each other before departing. Like I said earlier, this composition is written for TTBB. Just like the first piece I wrote about, “Sweetheart of the Sun,” “A Red, Red, Rose” is also a very slow and sad sounding song. The piece is in English. The last piece I chose to write about is called “Moonlight Music.” The main reason I chose to write about this piece is the very delicate minor sound it holds. The main thing that made this piece stand out to me was the title to be honest.
I thought it was a strange title compared to Eric Barnum’s other pieces that have a very delicate and flowing name. I thought that the word “Music” didn’t fit the nature theme and grace of his other song titles. This made me want to listen to it. This piece makes me for sure think about a Disney movie where a princess is walking through the forest during the night. It has a slight erie feel to it that gives you slight shivers down your back. I really like this aspect of the piece and it really helps separate itself from the other songs that I wrote about.
I have a different feeling when I listen to “Moonlight Music” then when I do listening to the other two very similar sounding songs. This piece is written for SATB. Also, like the first three pieces, “Moonlight Music,” is A Capella. All of Eric Barnum’s compositions I’ve come to realize are slow and sad sounding. That I believe is his “sound” and “music style.” This piece is written in English.
The words are taken from William Shakespeare’s plays “The Merchant of Venice” and “The Tempest.” All the music that Eric Barnum writes I believe are beautiful and elegant pieces. Yes, they may be slow but that aura of sound creates a peaceful environment for the listener.
“Sweetheart of the Sun,” “A Red, Red Rose,” and “Moonlight Music” all contain words of other authors that Eric Barnum was able to take and create a masterpiece. Even if his songs don’t contain his own words I do still believe he is a very talented composer. A lot of the differences I found between the songs was that the words were taken from different time periods which helped set up different scenes for the listener to view in their minds. I thought it was interesting what poems or books Eric Barnum chose to incorporate into his compositions.