October 6, 2011
ELIDA — A couple of years into it and a young Paul Barnes was ready to quit the piano. His father was not.“He refused to let me quit and that really changed the course of my life in a very positive way. He is a very stubborn guy,” Barnes said Thursday after playing for Elida Middle School pupils in the new high school auditorium. Barnes, a 1980 Elida High School graduate and internationally acclaimed pianist, will perform with the Lima Symphony Orchestra at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the Veterans Memorial Civic Center, and then at the high school auditorium dedication at 2 p.m. Sunday. “It is a fabulous facility,” Barnes said of the 670-seat auditorium, quickly pointing out the difference between the new piano and the old “substandard upright piano” he had to use while playing in high school.“It is wonderful for them to have this kind of an instrument for students,” he said.Barnes, who began playing at age 8, has played in major cities around the world and has released 11 CDs of his work. He is a Hixon-Lied Professor of Piano at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln School of Music.Barnes told sixth- and seventh-graders Thursday that everyone can't be concert pianists, but that everyone has a talent.“Your job, and your teachers' and parents' jobs, is to identify that unique talent and go for it,” he said. This is the fourth time Barns has played with the Lima Symphony Orchestra. His parents, Harry and Joan Barnes, still live in Lima. Barnes' father taught him how to play on the family's piano. Dad didn't have the resources to develop his musical gift, Barnes said.“It is one of the reasons why he was so adamant about making sure mine were developed,” he said.Barnes' messages to pupils was that there are opportunities out there, but that success requires commitment and a willingness to develop skills.“I encourage young kids to stick with things, and work hard developing whatever they are good at,” he said, adding that he hopes to inspire pupils as other musicians did for him. “I know that when I would attend these convocations, just to see them up there doing their stuff, it just really gave me a lot of inspiration to go practice and to develop my musical ability.” Inspiring music lovers is just as important as inspiring those with talents, Barnes said. He urged pupils to check him out on places like iTunes, Facebook and YouTube.“What we also need are really committed music lovers, people who are going to go support their local symphonies,” he said. “They may have absolutely no musical talent, but they understand how important supporting the arts is.”Symphony tickets are $30 and $25 for adults and $15 and $10 for students. Tickets for Sunday's auditorium dedication are $5.You can comment on this story at www.limaohio.com.