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Celebrating the pipe organ, the King of Instruments

Mailbag: “About Michael”

August 8, 2007

Dear Michael,

I never (well, almost never) miss Michael’s grand and glorious Pipe Dream programs, especially the ones featuring the big theatre organs. We have a mighty good one right here in Richmond at the beautiful old Byrd Theatre.

What about your biography, when and where born, education, etc., etc.

Thank you,

Ralph

 

Ralph,

Thanks for the good words. And for the poke, since we ought to have some sort of biography of me on the website, to satisfy the curious (ought to dig up some old pictures of the young me, too….).

Here’s a start:

J. Michael Barone has dedicated nearly 50 years of his life to an appreciation of organs and organ repertoire. He is program host and producer of American Public Media’s Pipedreams, heard on radio stations throughout the U.S. and also worldwide via Internet webcasts <www.pipedreams.org>. Each week, Barone shares selected organ works and performances and, through his commentary and conversations with players, builders and composers, encourages listeners to engage both their ears and imaginations to gain greater appreciation for the ‘King of Instruments’.

A native of Kingston, PA, Barone began his adventure with music amidst his parent’s small classical record collection and through piano lessons with Stella Pickett (the “little old lady down the street”). He advanced to piano lessons with Marion Wallace (his church organist), played tuba in school marching and concert bands (Howard Hallock and Robert Henderson, directors), sang in the high school glee club (Dorothy Turner, director), and eventually ‘discovered’ the pipe organ, urged on by neighborhood friend Robert Wech. In short, he grew into music in the inexplicable way that some kids do, encouraged by a supportive community and the offerings of the public school system.

Barone earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Music History from the Oberlin Conservatory, where he studied in Haskell Thomson’s organ studio and got his start in radio at WOBC-FM, the student-run campus 10-watt station. Upon graduation in 1968, he was hired as Music Director for KSJR-FM at Saint John’s University, Collegeville, MN, and has continued with the outgrowth of that station, today’s Minnesota Public Radio/American Public Media system, ever since.

Barone is a past President of the Organ Historical Society and co-founder of the Chamber Music Society of Saint Cloud. He received the President’s Award from the AGO in 1996, the O.H.S. Distinguished Service Award in 1997, and the Deems Taylor Broadcast Award for Excellence from ASCAP [American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers] in 2001. He was an advisor to the organ project for the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles during its planning and construction phase, and in 2006 was named advisor to the Fred J. Cooper Memorial Organ at the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia.

Cheers,

JMB

 

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