Margaret Barrett | Portraits of an Artist


What is your name and what do you do? 

My name is Margaret Barrett, and I work as a composer, producer and new music advocate.

How did you start making your art? Why do you keep going? 

I started composing because I was so moved by music and wanted to create music that moved others as well. I also find an irrefutable presence of the divine in all art forms, and I want to make music to both remind others of, and comfort others with, the presence of God in this world.

Why do I keep going? Despite myself, really. I find composing SO difficult and at the end of every project I complete, I wonder whether it's the last one I'll ever do. This is because I often feel like I'm not  good enough to be a real artist, like this composing thing is "just a phase." But somehow, opportunities continue to pop up and somehow, I can't resist them when they arrive. So I keep going, one project at a time, always wondering if it will be my last. 

How do faith and creativity collide for you?

Any creative work feels so rewarding to me because our drive to create is evidence of God empowering humanity, asking us to partner with Him in creation. That God implants in us the desire and ability to make art is a divine acknowledgment that our human experience is worth capturing and expressing. The tools and possibilities for art in our world are infinite and creativity is our attempt to lay claim to a tiny piece of that infinite. My faith allows me to trust in creativity as a spiritual act - it echoes the creative nature of God and because God values the expression of our human existence.


What are you thankful for in this season of your life, your work?

I'm thankful for my newborn son, Adlai - being a mother opens up a whole new world of existence to me, and I am thankful to God for the ways that it is expanding me right now. The demands of motherhood also require me to be more intentional, more deliberate my time allotted to creativity and my approach to composing. I can no longer dilly-dally around varying ideas, taking too much time wondering which one is the best. Because my time is limited, I have to act quickly and this requires me to jump off the creative precipice more quickly and commit to an idea, trust it is good, and run with it. Though this is scary, I'm grateful for the ways the time limitations imposed by motherhood is making me take more risks in my creative work. 


What are you working on now? Or current obsession?

I am working on a piece for the Mirror Visions Ensemble, a vocal trio based out of New York.  

What inspires you?

Other music, for sure! The Punch Brothers is my favorite band. I am inspired by raw, vulnerable and skilled performances by musicians and all other types of artists! I am also inspired by conversations about creativity and faith with my friends. I'm inspired by spiritual concepts that describe the nature of God - those always make me want to compose. 

What are you reading/watching/listening to right now?

I have been reading a book called Prayer by Timothy Keller and it's blowing my mind. I highly recommend it. I have been listening to the M. Ward station on Pandora (I love his song "Outro") repeatedly. And of course, since it's December - lots of choral arrangements of Christmas hymns! 

Complete this sentence: "I cannot live without ..."

I cannot live without coffee in the mornings. Every night before I go to bed, I think to myself, "Get excited! You get to have coffee at 6am tomorrow!"

 Margaret and her husband, Nathaniel, and her dog, Zelda. Photo by Sean Berry

Margaret and her husband, Nathaniel, and her dog, Zelda.
Photo by Sean Berry

Where to find Margaret: 

Twitter: @MCBSounds

A Feature on Margaret: Creo Stories

"Faith in Nights"
(A piece composed by Margaret Barrett for solo piano; performed by Grant Cooper)

Illustrations and hand lettering by Sojung Lee.

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