Twenty Questions with Composer Julie Barwick

Julie Barwick

Composer Julie Barwick, photo by Betsy Kershner, © 2015.

Julie Barwick is Elevate’s composer-in-residence for the 2017/18 season! She will be writing two new pieces for Elevate throughout the season, and we’re super excited to have her on board! As a way to introduce Julie, we asked her to answer a series of fun, rapid-fire questions. We sent her 60, she picked the 20 she liked best. Check it out!

1. What are three things about San Francisco that make you want to live here?
Among many other things, I love that San Francisco has diversity of people and music, access to great food, and natural beauty/scenery.

2. What are three things that San Francisco doesn’t have but should?
Affordable housing (x3)

3. Name your favorite concert hall/venue in San Francisco
Center for New Music: I’ve been to so many concerts here that this place feels like a second home.

4. Your role models?
Belinda Reynolds and Cindy Cox for being successful composers and educators in the Bay Area.

5. Your favorite sound?
Thunder, from a distance

6. Your least favorite sound?
Jack-hammering

7. The historical personalities, both good and bad, that fascinate you the most?
I’m endlessly fascinated by the personalities that seem extravagant, wild, and/or enigmatic, especially some of the Roman emperors such as Caligula and Claudius, and Beethoven.

8. If you could board a plane this afternoon, where would it be taking you?
Iran to visit family, and see amazing historical sites.

9. The strangest place you’ve ever been to?
Fairy chimneys in Cappadocia, Turkey

10. The three books that you read that made an impact on you in your formative years?
To Kill a Mockingbird (Harper Lee), The Giver (Lois Lowry), and The House on Mango Street (Sandra Cisneros) are all books I still think about.

11. Who’s musical style do you covet?
Caroline Shaw’s music is incredibly powerful and moving.

12. Where did you go to school?
UC Berkeley (BA in music) and San Francisco Conservatory of Music (MM in music composition)

13. The cliché that you overuse?
Might not be a proper “cliché,” but: “That’s how they get you.”

14. Your ancestry?
Persian and German

15. Your three favorite films?
Goodfellas, Cocteau’s La belle et la bête, Rear Window

16. Television show that you could tolerate re-runs of?
Seinfeld

17. What is the one animal that scares you the most?
Grizzly bears, especially after seeing Grizzly Man

18. Scariest situation you’ve ever been in?
Scuba diving without any kind of training, while terrifying, was also exciting (and fortunately we did not dive very deep).

19. The first album that made you love music?
Debussy’s Children’s Corner, played by Walter Gieseking, was one of my most frequently played albums as a child (and motivated me to practice piano).

20. Three pieces, songs, or arias that you could listen to on repeat for an hour?
Andrew Hill’s Erato, Aaron Copland’s Appalachian Spring, Arvo Pärt’s Fratres

More About Julie

Julie Barwick (b. 1983), is a composer and pianist originally from Southern California and now based in San Francisco. Drawing inspiration from her classical and jazz background, she not only enjoys writing for traditional chamber music ensembles, but also non-traditional ensembles as well as experimental jazz groups. She has written for ensembles with such diversity as Cecilia String Quartet, CityWinds, Ignition Duo, Siroko Duo, Andronica Trio, The Holly Martins, and Bleeding Vector.

Julie’s music has been performed throughout the US, and in February was featured on the Verdant Vibes Benefit Concert in Rhode Island. As a winner of the 2016 Areon International Composition Competition, she was commissioned by Areon Flutes to write her piece, Personal Space. Hot Air Music Festival commissioned her piece, Let Go, to be presented on a panel and workshop at the 2015 New Music Gathering held in San Francisco. Other recent projects were commissions from Siroko Duo, Jill Morgan Brenner, Andronica Trio, and Ignition Duo through the Guerrilla Composers Guild. She is currently working on a guitar quartet commission for the San Francisco Guitar Quartet.

As a co-founder of Helia Music Collective along with composer Emma Logan, she believes strongly in supporting the creative endeavors of women in music throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. Helia Music Collective recently held their first concert of all living women composers featuring the flute duo, Siroko Duo. They are currently planning their next concert and collaboration for spring 2018.

Julie received her B.A. in music from the University of California, Berkeley and her M.M. in music composition from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. She has studied with composers Belinda Reynolds, Dan Becker, David Garner, Cindy Cox, and Henry Threadgill.