Classical pianist Paul Barnes is known for his work with Philip Glass as well as other modern composers, and he has taken part in several significant collections of pieces by contemporary American composers. Just like many of the composers whose works he has interpreted, Barnes has an extremely wide range of interests and has studied at monasteries in the Judean desert as well as the somewhat marginally better ventilated Liszt Academy in Budapest. His specialties are minimalism and religious symbolism in music. The pianist has performed throughout the world, including several world premiere performances of works by Glass, including the debut of Glass' "Second Piano Concerto," based on the Lewis and Clark expedition. Barnes also worked on a release of his own transcriptions of Glass opera music on the Orange Mountain label. (He is not involved with the Glass score for the Errol Morris documentary entitled The Thin Blue Line, however -- that credit is for a film editor who is also named Paul Barnes.)
Other contemporary composers that Barnes has been associated with include David Ott, whose "Second Piano Concerto" has been an important part of the pianist's recital repertoire. He also presented the world premiere of "Ancient Keys," a piano concerto by Victoria Bond based on a Greek Orthodox communion hymn as well as the somewhat louder first performance of "Concerto for Amplified Piano and Wind Ensemble" by Jeffrey Hass. On recording, Barnes is best known for two volumes of American Piano Concertos on the Koch International label, including works by Joan Tower, Ott, and Bond. Known for his innovative lectures, the musical Barnes co-chairs the piano department at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln School of Music and also has taught at the Bösendorfer International Piano Academy and Indiana University.