Alumni opera singer revisits high notes of career

Cougar alumni live all around the world, but it is rare when one stationed in Amsterdam voluntarily returns to the Palouse.

Tonight, in Bryan Hall Theatre WSU alumnus Kristofer Barber will participate in a free voice recital alongside School of Music graduate students Juliana Witt and Alberto Ferro on the piano. The evening’s performance will be both a personal and professional expression of his career, Barber said.

“I’m incredibly excited to be returning to Pullman,” he said. “The songs that I’ve selected for my recital are a very personal reflection of my own musical journey, including composers and works that have been instrumental in my development as a singer and performer.”

Much of that influence comes from the Palouse and Barber’s strong relationship with the community. “My musical interests were nurtured and encouraged by my family from a very early age,” he said.

Barber’s father worked for various WSU departments before retiring in 2001, and his mother worked as a nurse. They enrolled him in piano lessons at the age of five, allowed him to embrace choir and theatre throughout his childhood and encouraged his participation in musicals at WSU.

“These were my first experiences singing with orchestra and learning what it meant to be a working musician/actor,” Barber said. “My standards for professionalism and how to communicate with an audience definitely have their roots on those countless hot summer nights, singing and dancing my heart out in Daggy Hall.”

Outside of his own presentation tonight, Barber has made an effort to interact with studying artists on campus.  

“Kris has also been working individually with some of our students and providing insights to the cast of the opera production of ‘Die Fledermaus’ by Johann Strauss,” School of Music staff member Julie Wieck said.

The WSU Opera will present “Die Fledermaus,” which will open for Mom’s Weekend.

“Being able to come back and share what I’ve learned and how I’ve grown with the next generation of singers is very meaningful for me,” Barber said. “Through singing I was able to discover who I was as a person and what I wanted to say to the world.

Throughout his life, Barber has spent a significant amount of time studying his passions. He holds two degrees, outside of his WSU certification, from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Wichita State University, Barber said.

“Kristofer Barber’s journey can serve as an inspiration to students who have aspirations to travel and adventure in the world beyond Pullman, Washington, and the WSU Campus” School of Music staff member Sandra Albers said. “His story reminds us that taking advantage of all the opportunities that our town and campus have to offer can lead to a successful career, regardless of the area of study.”

The students who will perform with Barber will present pieces from composers including Handel, Beethoven, Peterson-Berger, Hahn, and Hoiby. The recital will start at 8 p.m. and is open to the public free of charge.