Arthur P. Barnes - Career


After teaching band and music theory at Fresno State University, Barnes came to Stanford to get his doctorate in music education, and took over as interim director of the Stanford Band (he was named full-time director in 1965), winning over a group of students that had been in a state of anarchy until his arrival with his charts of rock and roll songs, including tunes by The Beatles, Chicago, and The Rolling Stones. His ability to transform popular rock songs into two-minute band pieces soon became the stuff of legend. Under his watch, he devoted most of his attention to directing Stanford's symphony and wind ensembles, while leaving the marching band almost entirely in the hands of the students.

Equally as offbeat as the band members he directed, Barnes filled in for a tuba player in the 1972 Rose Bowl Parade, winning a $50 bet with the UCLA band director that he couldn't march the five and a half miles with a sousaphone. After playing the tuba for the duration of the entire parade without sheet music, he quipped, "Hell, I didn't need music. I wrote it." The $50 check is still on the wall of the "Band Shak".

Upon his retirement in 1997, he received a proclamation from the six Stanford alumni then in the U.S. Senate (Max Baucus, Jeff Bingaman, Kent Conrad, Dianne Feinstein, Mark Hatfield and Ron Wyden), praising him for his arrangements and his commitment to musical education. A former student manager toasted him at his farewell dinner, saying:

Art Barnes never set out to 'manage' the Stanford Band. He set out to be their leader. He has evolved into being their mentor, their friend, their guide and their buffer from the University administration. And like the best leaders, he surrounded himself with some very bright people and allowed them to do their best.

Despite retiring from Stanford, Barnes continues to direct the Livermore-Amador Symphony, a position he has held since 1964.

In 2000, after three years with only a part-time director, the Stanford Band raised $1.5 million for an endowed chair in Barnes' name, The Dr. Arthur P. Barnes Endowment for the Stanford Director of Bands, to fund a full-time band director to replace Barnes.

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