To her students, music teacher Debbie Barron was a force of inspiration, someone who pushed them into a love of performance and lives dedicated to music. Sunday, more than 25 of her former students from the Encore Community Music Association will commemorate the 10-year anniversary of her death and celebrate a $1,000 donation made to the group in her name with a special tribute held during their annual end-of-the-year concert.
Barron helped found what was then known as the Western Maryland College Community Orchestra in 1995. After two years of association with the school, the group split out on their own, complete with a name change to the Encore Orchestra. Over the years, the group has expanded to include a second orchestra, symphonic band, and a symphonic orchestra as well as two annual summer music camps in Carroll and Howard counties.
Executive Director Mindy Niles said Barron first recruited her to work with the orchestra when they started in 1995. She said the Encore Orchestra is a vital intergenerational group that allows adults and students to work together.
"It might not be for everyone — some want a top-notch and cut-throat group — but we're a family," Niles said. "We want families to stay together and be together and connect through music."
"She wanted to teach everyone," Niles said. "She would give up her right arm if she could touch children through music. It wasn't about making money, she truly and genuinely loved what she did."
Barron died in 2006 after a six-year battle with cancer. This year, the Deborah K. Barron Music of the Heart Fund, a field-of-interest fund with the Community Foundation of Washington County, has made a $1,000 donation to the Encore Orchestra. Tom Barron, Debbie's husband, said that music was the second biggest passion in her life next to her family. He said her passion for education never diminished.
"It really kept her going for a long time, even after she was diagnosed with cancer," Barron said. "She was good at it, and it was hard to find enough time to have everyone who was interested in working with her for lessons. I'm sure she made an impression on many of them."
One of the students who cites Barron as a major influence on her life is Sarah York, a violin teacher who is returning to Encore to perform a solo during the concert. York said she started playing the violin in fourth grade, but it wasn't until she started working with Encore two years later that a love of music really began to blossom.
During the tribute, York, as well as the rest of the returning musicians, will perform "Ashokan Farewell" by Jay Ungar. Niles said the piece was one of Barron's favorites, and the piece was played at her funeral as well. They will also play "From the Realms of Glory" as arranged by Patrick Roszell at the conclusion of the concert. York said that Barron's impact on Carroll County can't be overstated.
"I think about her daily," York said. "I think what's really striking is how many of her students have gone into music professionally. Just out of my friends, there are four or five teachers, myself included, who teach solely because of her influence on us."
York said she was excited to return to the group, and couldn't wait to go on stage together. Any former Encore members, students and colleagues of Debbie Barron's who wish to participate on the concert should email email@example.com for more information.