Barbara Witham McCargar’s performing career has spanned over four decades, from Musical Theater to Art Song Recitals. As a soloist, she has given many recitals in concert halls and churches in addition to having been a featured singer with the Grand Rapids Symphony Pops, the Kalamazoo and Calvin College Oratorio Societies, Lansing Lyric Opera, Opera Grand Rapids, the Grand Rapids Choir of Men and Boys, St. Cecilia Music Center (formerly SCM Society), the Ann Arbor Cantata Singers, Lake Michigan College, Western Michigan University, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison for the College Music Society.
Numerous productions for Circle Theatre and Youth Opera USA with composer Sanford Jones, Spectrum Theater, GR Civic Theater, Frederik Meijer Gardens, DeVos Hall, Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp, the Dominican Center at Marywood, Holy Family Chapel of the Nazareth Center, Kalamazoo, and the Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts are just some of the regional venues where her soprano voice has been heard. Ms. McCargar toured in Austria and Hungary, recorded a CD, and performed in concerts as a member and soloist with the Chamber Choir of Grand Rapids. She recorded the CD, “Women’s Work” (2005) for soprano and piano, at River City Studios, Ltd. which evolved out of annual lecture recitals with her colleagues on the campus of Aquinas during Women's History Month. It includes songs for solo voice and piano by Larsen, Price, Moore, Beach, Glickman, and King. Fellow faculty members performing on the CD are accompanist and piano soloist, Mary Hurd, and pianist, Catherine Williams, O.P., playing extended works by Rhene Jaque and Lili Boulanger, respectively.
Her three most recent CDs with the female quartet, The Hildegard Singers, are Songs from the Abbey (2012) featuring Linn Maxwell Keller as Hildegard von Bingen, “O Greenest Branch” Songs of St. Hildegard of Bingen and Liturgical Chants” (2014), and “Veni, Veni Emmanuel - Christmas Carols and Chants from the Renaissance and the Middle Ages” (2015), all through Alto Productions and River City Studios, Ltd. Performing in numerous concert, international medieval conference venues and churches, in July 2013, The Hildegard Singers performed the chants of Hildegard of Bingen and plainchant in concert in the Chapel of Queen’s College, Cambridge, England, and for the International Conference on St Ursula and the 11,000 Virgins, at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David, Carmarthen Campus. The Hildegard Singers performed at the national NPM convention in 2015. As a founding member of the vocal chant trio, Vox Angelica, Ms. McCargar recorded "Hildegard von Bingen - Chants of Heaven and Earth" (2003), performed in concerts for mid-west regional conventions of NPM and as an Artist in Residence at the Cathedral of Saint Andrew, and toured Spain and Portugal as the featured artists in 2005 with the Diocesan Choir of Grand Rapids, under the direction of Dr. Brandon Spence. Other recordings featuring Ms. McCargar are of her singing a work of Morton Feldman (Wind) which debuted on air in May of 2010 and Marc Chan’s I Sail'd Out To Sea (2009) for 3 voices and instruments, on the POSTCAGE project through Ogre Ogress.
Barbara is a sought after cantor, clinician and presenter on vocal technique, has presented workshops for choirs and the church cantor all over the state of Michigan, and is currently the director of the St. Stephen Church Choir in East Grand Rapids, MI. A long time member and past president of the GR Chapter of the National Association of Pastoral Musicians (NPM), she has presented at three regional conventions and at the 2015 National NPM Convention where she also performed with The Hildegard Singers. She is a 38 year member and former Michigan state board member of the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS), her students continuing to receive awards at both the State and Regional Auditions. McCargar’s other professional activities include: chairing the Classical Music area for the GR Festival of the Arts, being a member of the Opera Grand Rapids Education Sub-committee of the Board, studying WEM - “What Every Musician Needs to Know About the Body” from the Association for Body Mapping Education - www.bodymap.org and Alexander Technique, studying the LoVetri SomaticVoice works CCM pedagogy, performing all types of vocal music, most especially the songs of Women Composers, and attending performances of her former and present students around the country. Ms. McCargar holds a Master of Music in Voice, with secondary emphasis in Opera from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor as a student of Katherine Hilgenberg, with further study at the American Institute of Musical Studies in Graz, Austria. She received her BM in Vocal Performance from Aquinas College, Grand Rapids, MI, as a student of June Law Marshall. Further studies were with Donna Harrison (Chicago, IL) and Stanley Kolk (Grand Rapids). She has taught at Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp, Grand Rapids Community College, Jordan College, Cornerstone University (formerly GR Baptist College), Western Michigan University and for GRPS. She began teaching on the campus of Aquinas College in 1987 and currently holds the positions of Associate Professor of Music and Chair of the Music Department, with present course assignments including Studio Applied Voice Lessons, Vocal Techniques, Studio Applied Voice Lessons, Seminars and Research in Music, Music Appreciation, and Literature and Pedagogy for the Studio.