UMass Dartmouth’s College of Arts and Sciences welcomes John T. La Barbera

John T. La Barbera, Academy Award-nominated film score composer and guitar and stringed instrument virtuoso, will present two newly composed scores.

John T. La Barbera plays the guitar

UMass Dartmouth’s College of Arts and Sciences invites the university community and general public to a performance by John T. La Barbera, the 2016 Esposito Visiting Faculty Fellow, and August Watters.

Romantic tragedy and comedy come together with two classics from the silent film era - Assunta Spina (1915) and The Immigrant (1917). They will be presented with two newly composed scores by John T. La Barbera. The performance will take place in Woodland Commons, Room 3 on April 6 at 7 pm. The event is free and open to the public.

John T. La Barbera: composer and virtuoso

John T. La Barbera, Academy Award-nominated film score composer and guitar and stringed instrument virtuoso, has won several awards and commissions from The Jerome Foundation, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, The Martin Gruss Foundation and the New York State Council on the Arts, Meet the Composer, and numerous composer awards from ASCAP.

The Italian Oral History Institute honored him in 2005 for the extraordinary role he played in the transmission and translation of Italian oral traditions. He was also recognized as one of the first transcribers of Southern Italian folk music in America.

He is currently an adjunct music professor at the Bergen Community College in Paramus, NJ, and an artist in residence at the Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts in Katonah, NY, with the educational program on Italian renaissance music. He continues to perform as a concert artist to audiences throughout the United States, Europe and South America.

Classics from the silent film era

Salvatore Di Giacomo’s Assunta Spina (1915), starring the queen of the Italian silent screen, Francesca Bertini. Considered to be the first film that invented realism, Bertini’s performance set a new standard for Italian cinema.

Charlie Chaplin’s The Immigrant (1917), a romantic comedy with Chaplin and Edna Purviance that blends both physical comedy and social issues that confronts new immigrants upon arriving and integrating into a new culture. The Immigrant is one of Chaplin’s most popular films.

John T. La Barbera and August Watters’ performance

For this score, arranged for mandolin/violin and guitar, LaBarbera creates an intimate atmosphere by keeping an accompaniment of emotions found in the melodic themes of the characters in a leitmotif style to highlight the melodramatic and picturesque style of the film.  

As the film captures glimpses of life on the streets of Naples, references to popular traditional music can be seen in the background shots. From dancing the polka accompanied by serenading  musicians to pastoral shepherds playing bagpipes for Christmas, he presents a glimpse into this period by using the rhythms of tarantella, polka, tango, waltzes, and pastoral serenades, to enhance the realism surrounding the circumstances of Assunta’s tragic and passionate story.  


College of Arts and Sciences