Barbara Scowcroft's life in music began in Connecticut with violin and piano at age eight. When her family relocated to Illinois, she played in the Chicago Youth Orchestra and started her chamber music studies at The Music Center of the North Shore with her private instructor, Stanley Ackerman. In her senior year of high school, she studied at the Mozarteum in Salzburg, Austria, and toured Europe with the student orchestra. She studied privately with Hermann Kneizl.
After high school graduation in 1974, Ms. Scowcroft was accepted into the North Carolina School of the Arts, where she studied with Elaine Richey. Ms. Scowcroft studied chamber music with Veda Reynolds, with whom she spent subsequent summers studying privately in France. Her conducting professor at the School of the Arts was Mark Popkin.
Ms. Scowcroft transferred to the University of Utah School of Music, where she studied conducting with Janson Klein and Varujan Kojian, who was also Ms. Scowcroft's violin professor. As an undergraduate, she was a founding member of the University Honors String Quartet program, coached by Ramero Cortes, Bruce Reich, and Michael Boguslavasky. As Concertmaster of the University of Utah Philharmonia, Barbara soloed in the Chausson Poeme, J.S. Bach's Violin Concert in a minor, and the Stravinsky Violin Concerto. Barbara also soloed with the Utah Symphony on Salute to Youth in 1978, performing the Wieniavski Concerto in d minor. She graduated in 1982 with a B.A. in Violin Performance.
From 1980-1985 Ms. Scowcroft conducted the University of Utah Chamber Orchestra. This year - 2009 - marks Barbara's 24th season as Music Director and Conductor of the Utah Youth Symphony Orchestra. More than 1,500 youth musicians have been members of Utah Youth Symphony Orchestra during Barbara's leadership, playing unedited classical literature in weekly rehearsals and frequent performances in Utah's premiere concert venues, all under the baton of Ms. Scowcroft.
On the Utah Symphony's Alumni Salute to Youth Concert in 1991 she conducted Saint-Saens' Carnival of the Animals. Barbara served as the Music Director and Conductor of the Vivaldi by Candlelight Concerts at St. Mark's Cathedral, 1997-2004. Vivaldi by Candlelight is a benefit fund-raising concert for the Utah Council for Citizen Diplomacy, promoting mutual understanding and respect between citizens of Utah and people of foreign nations.
For the past thirteen years in Jackson, Wyoming, she has been a member of the violin section of the Grand Teton Music Festival Orchestra. In addition to performing annually with the Grand Teton Music Festival since 1997, she has conducted works for Chamber Ensemble on the Festival's chamber music series and presents pre-concert lectures. She wrote and narrated Stories for Stravinsky's Firebird Suite with Eiji Oue in 2003 and for Stravinsky's Nightingale with Max Valdez for The Festival. Also in Jackson, since 1999 she has been conductor of the annual String Fest - a week-long clinic for Jackson and Star Valley Middle School youth orchestra musicians. String Fest culminates in a collaborative performance, conducted by Barbara, at the end of the week in Walk Festival Hall.
She had the unique honor to be Music Director and Conductor of the World Youth Orchestra for the Cultural Olympiad during the 2002 Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City. After embarking on an international tour to conduct hundreds of auditions, Barbara personally selected thirty-six youth musicians from five continents representing twelve countries for the World Youth Orchestra. Ms. Scowcroft combined those thirty-six gifted young musicians with 135 Utah Youth Symphony Orchestra musicians to form an international family of youth musicians who traveled together throughout the Intermountain West for the entire month of February 2002 to rehearse and perform several outreach concerts as part of a cultural goodwill concert tour. The month-long cultural exchange spear-headed by Barbara culminated on the evening of February 18, 2002 under her baton at a free, full-house concert by the youth musicians at Abravanel Hall.
She was guest conductor for the Guangzhou, China Conservatory Orchestra in 2002. Barbara Scowcroft has also been a guest conductor at the American Festival for the Arts in Houston since 2002 and in 2005 was appointed the Festival's Resident Conductor. In 2004, Ms. Scowcroft was selected to conduct the Texas All-State String Orchestra. The Salt Lake Symphony, in April 2006, selected Ms. Scowcroft as a guest conductor, making her the first female conductor in their history. In 2008, in response to an increasing number of youth musicians requesting auditions for Utah Youth Symphony Orchestra, Barbara Scowcroft founded Utah Youth Philharmonic, a second weekly pre-professional orchestra for talented youth musicians. In 2009 she accepted an invitation to conduct the University of Utah Philharmonia with the Annual Concerto Competition winners.
Ms. Scowcroft was Music Director and General Manager of the Nova Chamber Music Series from 1985-2004. She was a founding member of the NOVA String Quartet, which performed 1982-2004. She received the Governor's Award for NOVA in 1999. Under her direction, the NOVA Series presented a wide range of classical and contemporary chamber music including numerous works commissioned for the series. Ms. Scowcroft secured The Museum of Fine Arts at the University of Utah as the home venue of the series, reflecting her belief in the fusion of visual arts and music. She co-hosted concert broadcasts of NOVA with Gene Pack on KUER public radio in 1985-1998. In her capacity of Music Director for NOVA, Barbara Scowcroft was invited by KUED public television to co-create and perform on a special tribute to Joseph Silverstein for KUED t.v. in 1996.
Barbara Scowcroft completed a Masters of Music Degree in Conducting at the University of Utah in 2003. She is Adjunct Associate Professor of Violin at the University of Utah and has served as guest faculty at Westminster College.
In 1992 Ms. Scowcroft received Salt Lake City's first Mayor's Award in the Arts. In 2003 she was awarded O.C. Tanner's Everyday Hero Award for her volunteer work with Utah non-profit organizations. In 2004 she was selected by the National Association of Women Business Owners, Utah Business Magazine, and the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce as one of thirty “Visionary Women of Utah”.