Susan LaBarr spends her days making music, a love she discovered as a student at Missouri State University.
“I credit my experience and growth at Missouri State for the reason I am where I am today. Many of my music professors, including Dr. Guy Webb (choral music), Dr. John Prescott (composition) and Dr. Peter Collins (piano) greatly influenced my learning and led me on the path to finding my passions and talents.”
LaBarr, who lives and works in Tennessee, is sharing those passions and talents with others around the nation through her work as the choral editor for Choristers Guild, a music publication company in Dallas, Texas.
Recently, LaBarr was also named Missouri Composer Laureate for 2012 and 2013 by the Missouri Verses and Voices organization.
“It has been a great honor to be the Missouri Composer Laureate. I am extremely proud to be a Missourian, so it has been a great privilege to represent my home state in this way. This experience has exposed my music to a lot of people who might not have heard it otherwise.”
Along with the commissions LaBarr receives to create pieces for choirs across the country, she often creates pieces for Missouri State’s Concert Chorale.
“The Concert Chorale is an extremely skilled choir that sings with a huge amount of emotion. Because of this, I can write anything for them, which allows me to be my most creative. I’ll be writing a new piece for the Concert Chorale this fall, using poetry by Missouri-born poet Eugene Field.”
LaBarr still remembers her first composition performed by the Concert Chorale: “I’ll never forget how wonderful it was to hear the Concert Chorale sing through my arrangement of ‘You Cannot Lose My Love’ for the first time in 2006. Not only did it sound beautiful, but the expression from the choir and from Dr. Webb was unmatched.”
The Concert Chorale holds a special place in LaBarr’s heart. Participating with this group in college led her to meet her husband, Cameron, now an associate professor of music at Lee University in Cleveland, Tenn.
“We traveled together with the choir to France, the Netherlands, Germany, Los Angeles, Boston and New York City during our time at Missouri State. These were rich musical experiences that helped to shape our relationship.”
The LaBarrs remain connected to the University.
“We were able to become the people and musicians that we are today because of all that we experienced as students. Those experiences were made possible by the amazing people who continue to give to the University. It is now our chance to give back, and to help to give other students the same experiences that we had.”