John T. La Barbera, Academy Award-nominated film score composer-arranger, guitarist and stringed instrument virtuoso, has won several awards and commissions from The Jerome Foundation, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, The Martin Gruss Foundation, the New York State Council on the Arts, Meet the Composer, and ASCAP.
As a member of the American Federation of Musicians, Local 802, La Barbera gained a reputation as a sought out studio session player in New York City. His virtuosity on a wide variety of plucked string instruments has enabled him to record for some of Hollywood’s most prominent film composers, including Howard Shore, for the Columbia Pictures film Gloria, featuring Sharon Stone, where he played Puerto Rican cuatro. As an expert in a variety of styles, from medieval and renaissance music, classical, jazz, folk music, Italian, Brazilian, and a variety of World traditional music, he has contributed to numerous recording sessions requiring specialty instruments ranging from renaissance lute for Walt Disney Productions, to bouzouki for TV and Radio jingles. As a jingle writer, he worked for the music house North Forty, in New York City.
He has appeared on recording and performance projects with many great artist including folk singer Judy Collins, rock drummer John Densmore of THE DOORS, actor Dominic Chianese, actor John Turturro, Broadway actress and star of The Lion King, South African vocalist Tsiddi Le Loka and the famed Italian American - Neapolitan singer, Jimmy Roselli.
In 2018, La Barbera produced, arranged and played seven instruments for film and TV actor Dominic Chianese’s new album I’m a Typical New Yorker. John also produced a live concert performing together with Dominic at the Ciccone Theater in Paramus, NJ.
La Barbera holds a Master of Music degree from The William Paterson University in Jazz Studies and Arranging and a Bachelor of Music degree from The Hartt School of Music in Classical Guitar. In Italy, he studied at the Accademia Chigiana in Siena, with master film composer Ennio Morricone.
He is currently a performing arts faculty member at Bergen Community College in Paramus, New Jersey and has taught at The Julius Hartt School of Music (University of Hartford); The Guitar Study Center of the New School in N.Y.; Sessione Sienese in Siena, Italy; SASI in Bratislava, Slovakia; and SESC in Sao Paulo, Brazil. He conducts workshops and lectures on mandolin and acoustic guitar styles, ethnomusicology, world music, and has written for Acoustic Guitar magazine. His music has been recorded on Shanachie records, Meadowlark, Rounder Records, Lyrichord Disks, Ellipsis Arts, and Bribie records.
John was invited to present his latest film score for the silent Italian film Assunta Spina (1915) at the Pordenone Festival of Silent Film in Italy in 2018. He received the 2016 Esposito Visiting Faculty Fellow Award from UMass, Dartmouth, and for his extraordinary role in the transmission and translation of Italian musical traditions he received an award from The Italian Oral History Institute. La Barbera is recognized as a pioneer in reviving Southern Italian folk music and one of the first transcribers of it in America. He is the author of two books on Italian Traditional Folk Music published by Mel Bay Publications. https://www.johntlabarbera.com/publications
Because of his expertise in Italian music, he often collaborates with many film and theater directors working on Italian projects.
Film and TV Appearances:
• When in Rome (Touchstone films) • The Bounty Hunter (Sony-Columbia) • The Moon in the Gutter (Gerard Depardiu and Natasha Kinski) Gaumont-Cinecitta` productions (Rome, Italy) • Neapolitan Heart (Cuore Napolitano) with Jimmy Roselli. Rome, Italy • The Gossip Girls- Warner TV • Law and Order- Warner TV series
LaBarbera's first debut as a performer was at the 1964-65 New York State World's Fair with his first rock group, The Fugitives. Since 1973, he has performed in concert halls playing classical music, jazz and traditional world music and his original compositions, throughout Europe, South America, Canada and the US.
Concert Tours in Brazil as composer-guitarist produced by the Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil, and SESC: • Rhythm of The Roots • New Acoustic Music • String Ecstasy • Tour with Brazilian virtuoso guitar group DUOFEL
* Performance Venues:
• Carnegie Hall • The Montreal Jazz Festival • Lincoln Center • Guggenheim Museum • Metropolitan Museum • Smithsonian Institute • The Pordenone Silent Film Festival, Pordenone Italy • Cineteca di Friuli, Gemona, Italy • UCLA • Field Museum in Chicago • Philadelphia Museum of Fine Arts • San Francisco World Music Festival • The World Music Institute -NYC
* Paris Sorbonne University, France
* Freiburg International Festival, Germany
* The Ciccone Theater, Bergen Community College
* Tour of Scotland
Credits as composer: Film
* The Academy Award Nominated Feature Documentary: Children of Fate, 1992.
* Assunta Spina (silent film) new score, 2017.
* The Immigrant (Chaplin, 1917) new score, 2017.
* The Bounty Hunter, Columbia Pictures, 2012. (Restaurant scene)
* Drifting, 2014.
* Finding The Mother Lode: Italian Immigration in California, 2013.
* Sister Italy, 2012.
* Sacco and Vanzetti, 2008.
* Pane Amaro, 2008.
* What's up Scarlet, 2005.
* Neapolitan Heart -Cuore Napolitano, 2000.
* La Festa , 1996.
* Tarantella , 1994. (Puppet scene)
Theater Credits as Musical Director-Composer-Arranger, Sound Designer:
• Souls of Naples (Theater for a New Audience) starring John and Aida Turturro. Off-Broadway • Kaos, (New York Theater Workshop) directed by choreographer Marta Clarke. Off-Broadway • LaMaMa E.T.C. productions of Teatro Patologico di Roma directed by Dario D’Ambrosi -Off-Broadway • Bible Women directed by Liz Swados Off-Broadway • Retzach, The Homecoming Project, Garcia Lorca's Yerma, Pushing Through directed by Shauna Kanter (Theater 54) Off-Broadway • The Voyage of the Black Madonna- I Giullari di Piazza (IGDP) • La Lupa-The She-Wolf- IGDP • The Dance of the Ancient Spider- IGDP • La Cantata dei Pastori-IGDP • The Adventures of Don Giovanni and His Servant Pulcinella-IGDP • After The Rain, Off-Broadway
Composer of Sacred Works-Oratorio • Stabat Mater: Donna di Paradiso
I am available as:
* Musical director
* Composer-arranger for musical theater or film
* Producer, performer, session musician
* Actor for sideline works in films. (See bio)
* Recording projects
* Band leader for private events
Having a degree in classical guitar, I am an excellent sight-reader with many years of experience and proficient in reading and performing on other plucked instruments including mandolin, renaissance lute, chitarra battente, baroque guitar, oud, saz, bouzouki, cavaquinho, charango, Puerto Rican cuatro, banjo, and ukulele.
For more info: https://www.johntlabarbera.com/