Blurb “An eighteenth-century Englishman time-travels to the twenty-first-century United States of America. He asks for some American entertainment. He is taken to the center of the country that is arguably still the world’s center of geopolitical power and ushered in to a splendid house on a modest mountaintop in the Ozarks, where locals are gathering to listen to live music. Ah, this is familiar, thinks the visitor: a soiree in the salon, for aristocrats arriving in carriages, uncomfortable in their unbending finery, ready for nonstop highbrow music, all the better to snooze by.
The locals are now arriving, chatting and eager. They seat themselves, though not by rank. For the visitor familiarity has quickly given way to surprise. These people are not dependent on professionally trained specialists to entertain them; they can take care of themselves. Every room in three directions is packed with chairs facing a tight area serving as a stage. The musicians are gathering, down one hallway, not hidden from the audience. These, too, are neighbors, smiling and waving. The local impresario, one Mark Barnett, squeezes past his friends to the stage area and, speaking without notes, sets the program in motion. This is democracy in action in the rhythms of everyday life. Already the visitor is adjusting to this entrancing new world. Democracy begets novelty, which begets informality, which begets variety. Variety—the very spice of life. Variety—a thoroughly American watchword. There will be no snoozing here. Let there be classical music and popular, highbrow and down-home; with gospel, spiritual, jazz, original compositions stirred in. Let there be assorted instruments: piano, guitar, trumpet, bassoon, flute, sax. Let the performers range from those with experience on stage to teenagers coming up. One can—we all can—almost taste the tang of Americana in the air, for we are in the center of the center. And our old English visitor’s memory will carry the twang of this beautiful hill country. It infuses Mark’s closing words. It is the Ozark twang.” – Dr. Ed Ericson, Jr., professor of English emeritus at Calvin College; a Razorback by merit of two degrees
“The recital was truly a delight. There is so much local talent and you brought it together beautifully. I’m sure everyone was as blessed as I was. I’m sure we will hear more of the young artists that performed. Good job! I look forward to the next one!” – Sandra Mulchin
“My husband and I thoroughly enjoyed a recent concert organized by Mark Barnett. It was wonderful to hear some of the finest musical talent our area has to offer. The vocalists and instrumentalists were top-notch and it was just a delightful afternoon listening to these musicians share their gifts. I would strongly encourage anyone who appreciates music to make every effort to attend a concert.” – Kris Anderson
“What I liked was the talent of all ages and the variety the best. The setting was pretty awesome.” – Dianne Hodge
“It was phenomenal!!! You are so incredibly talented, Mark! There were so many unique musicians…the flutist, bassoon player, etc. And, oh my goodness…ROSE! What an inspiring voice she has!! You could not have chosen a better song for her to end the program with…LET GO AND LET GOD! This world would be so much better off if we could hear music all the time like all of you offered us yesterday!” – Jenny Avery
“Music is an equalizer. No matter the profession or station in life, no matter the age or appearance, music connects us with one another in the grand cacophony of life. From high school jazz musicians who play like they’re on Bourbon Street, to a Native American flute that harkens back to a world wild and free; from a triumphant instrument of song sprang forth from a Katrina survivor, to a bassoon played so sweetly tears flow. Melody reaches a place carved deep within each of us and alternately makes the space want to dance, shout, whisper, rejoice, mourn, remember, groan, love, laugh, live. The music of connection lingers long after the last note fades.” – Ruth Abbey
“Mark put forth extra effort to make this a professional music program–a lot of hours were spent practicing for the concert. It was very well attended and appreciated. Thank you Mark and performers for your willingness to bring us together . . . .! Look forward to the August concert! – Jeanette Pettey