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Town Crier
Paying tribute to a 'giant' man with special concert
By Susan L. Wagner
Fri Nov 27, 2009

WAYLAND - Although not a man of imposing physical stature, the late Allen Barker of Wayland had many qualities often associated with the word "giant." He was a talented artist and innovator, a musician, a raconteur, a bon vivant and a devoted volunteer.

Besides teaching the piano to generations of Wayland children – some of whom have pursued careers on the international concert stage – Barker’s legacy lives on in town with the Little Theatre Concerts, which he founded in 1965 and, in the words of Charlie Anderson who now heads up the series, "ran pretty much single-handedly for the next 42 years."

Barker died a year ago after a long battle with cancer. He was born in Portland, Maine, on Dec. 24, 1923. He received a bachelor of science degree in psychology from Yale University, followed by an artist diploma and doctorate in music from the New England Conservatory. He made his concert debut at Jordan Hall in Boston and also played at Carnegie Hall in New York.

Barker will be remembered on Friday, Dec. 4, in a special Little Theatre Concert with performances by some of his former students and others whose lives were touched by this multifaceted man – Frederick Moyer, Bruce Pratt, Noah MacNeil, Evan Lamont and Larry Shulman.

Pratt, who has gone on to become a concert pianist, recalls Barker as "representing the spirit that was inside him – in fact, it could be felt all around him. To me, it was unavoidable to think of him as a teacher without also thinking of him as a friend. Spirit, teacher and friend – Allen defined each of these to me."

Likewise, Shulman, now an oncologist at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, cites Barker’s friendship in a very special way.

"Personally, he was not only my teacher, but a dear friend who gave from the heart, and through his music. He had a warmth and kindness and generosity that seemed to be the base of all his interactions.

"The Wayland Little Theatre Concert series was an example of his generosity, putting in countless hours of work, to present wonderful, free music in an intimate setting in Wayland, while helping young musicians gain experience and exposure. I and so many others miss him so much."

Among those who did not study with Barker, but who was given an opportunity by him, is Wayland native Frederick Moyer, now a world-renowned concert pianist.

"Allen epitomized the use of one’s art to improve the quality of life in one’s community," Moyer said. "Through many years of teaching, his founding and chairing the Wayland Little Theatre Concerts, and his many inspiring piano performances, he contributed immeasurably to making Wayland a place where the arts have flourished and where young people have been encouraged to nurture their artistic interests.

"I was still in college when Allen first invited me to perform in the series. This was one of my first professional performances, and said to me at a crucial time that he and Wayland believed in me. I will always remember his support with the greatest gratitude."

The 8 p.m. concert in the Little Theatre at Wayland High School will feature classical works by Chopin, Brahms, Mendelssohn and Rachmaninoff, as well as several popular pieces. The concert will be followed by a reception in the Commons that will include a display of artwork by Lester Farnsworth as well as by current High School students.

The event is free and open to the public, as are all Little Theatre Concerts. For more information e-mail "" or call 508-358-2667.

Contributions to the series may be sent to PO Box 314, Wayland MA 01778.

WAYLAND - Allen Noble Barker
Established free concert series

Allen Noble Barker died on Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2008 at the Beth Israel Hospital in Boston at the age of 84 following a courageous battle with cancer.

He was born in Portland, Maine, on Dec. 24, 1923, the son of the late Lewis A. Barker and Gwendolyn (Allen) Barker.

Mr. Barker is survived by his loving and devoted wife of 59 years, Armida M. "Neta" (DiMeo) Barker of Wayland.

He was the beloved father of Allen Noble Barker Jr. and his wife Ruth A. Barker of Hamden, Conn., and Allyson Barker of Watertown. He is also survived by his granddaughter Eliza A. Barker of Hamden. Conn.

He was the brother of Walter Barker and his wife Vivian Barker of Worcester and an uncle to one niece and two nephews.

Mr. Barker spent his formative years in Portland, Maine, Cleveland, Ohio and Charleston, W.V. He received his bachelor of science degree in psychology from Yale University in Connecticut and an artist diploma and doctorate in music from the New England Conservatory of Music.

He served his country as a lieutenant with the U.S. Navy during World War II.

Mr. Barker was a well-known and accomplished pianist in the Boston area as well as a teacher of the piano. He began his career in his studio in Melrose and continued to teach at his Wayland studio until his illness. He had his concert debut at Jordan Hall in Boston and also played at Carnegie Hall in New York.

He was instrumental in establishing for the free concert series in Wayland for over 40 years. Mr. Barker touched the lives of many children and adults with his love, devotion and passion for music and art and always lent an encouraging comment to his students who have continued to be in contact with him over the years.

Fulfilling his boyhood dream, Barker and his family spent their summers at a cottage on Little Diamond Island in Portland, Maine.

A memorial service celebrating his life will be held at a later date in Wayland.

In lieu of flowers, his family suggests memorial gifts in his memory may be sent to Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Cancer Research, 116 Huntington Ave, Fifth Floor, Boston MA 02116, or to Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Contribution Services, 10 Brookline Place West, Sixth Floor, Brookline MA 02445.

Arrangements have been entrusted to the care of the John C. Bryant Funeral Home of Wayland.

Multi-talented artist to perform
By Susan L. Wagner
Tue Nov 22, 2005, 07:00 PM EST

Wayland - Wayland's Allen Barker is a man of many talents. As a musician with two advanced degrees from the New England Conservatory, he has taught piano to generations of local children as well as at area colleges and prep schools. He performs widely both in Europe and the U.S., having played at the Phillips and National Galleries in Washington, D.C. and on numerous occasions with the Boston Pops. As a visual artist, he paints, draws and photographs; does pastels, collages, assemblages, mixed media and installations; and, as he says, "aspires to sculpture." As a manager, he oversees the highly successful Little Theatre Concert Series at Wayland High School.

Barker's interests in fact are so wide ranging that he has added a second name to his persona. Thus, for some time now, he has been known to his appreciative fans as Allen Barker, a.k.a. Lester Farnsworth, or, as the mood strikes, as Lester Farnsworth, a.k.a. Allen Barker.

He's a little unsure about how the extra name got tacked on. He believes his wife might have thought it up to keep a disapproving neighbor from learning that he was responsible for an impromptu assemblage in the backyard of their summer home in Maine.

"I like the name," he says, "because it's so hokey sounding. It's like a second-rate novelist trying to find a name for someone who's a bookkeeper or the owner of a hardware store."

No matter. The name has stuck. And, says Barker, "it's funny, but people remember that name almost better than my own."

In the next few weeks, residents will have ample opportunity to appreciate Barker/Farnsworth's many gifts. A one-man show of more than 20 works, both recent and retrospective, can be seen at the Wayland Public Library's Raytheon Room through the end of December. And on Friday, Dec. 2, he will perform a benefit concert for the Friends of the Wayland Library at the High School Little Theatre at 8 p.m.

In his visual art, the man is nothing if not inventive. Everything is grist for his mill - skateboard ramps, plaster sculptures of angels salvaged from an abandoned convent, old washboards, carpenters' levels and dismantled fans.

One piece in the show, singularly titled "One," is made from a large piece of driftwood, antique spikes used in building wharves or boathouses, and a piece of rope.

Another piece, "Entropy of Angels," has been fashioned from lobster pots, the aforementioned plaster angels, and a scrap of fabric that shows a very blue sky dotted with white puffy clouds.

The ideas never stop. Nor does the whimsy. Another piece, for example - which he did several years ago and may or may not be in the upcoming show - was inspired by an ab machine.

"I saw it advertised on TV. You know, you get down on your knees and roll it back and forth on the floor with your upper body," he says, demonstrating enthusiastically. "Then, a while ago there was an article in the Sunday New York Times, saying that, if you want to get a girl, you have to build up your abs. So I cut out a bunch of ab ads from a health magazine and made a collage that I pasted on the machine."

Sometimes, Farnsworth calls his works "sculptural assemblages." Other times, he says they are "collages and mixed media." Other times, they are "the art of entertainment." Even "salvation, because I salvage everything." Or simply "serendipity."

He gets his inspiration, he says, "because I have a passion for visual artwork, and I am not affluent enough to buy things. So, in order to have them, I have to make them."

The public is invited to an opening reception of Farnsworth's show, titled "The Art of the In Between," under the sponsorship of Arts/Wayland, on Sunday, Nov. 27 from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. An artist's walk-through will begin at 3 p.m.

Most of the works are on sale, with 20 percent of the proceeds going to the Friends of the Wayland Library. They are priced from $65 to $1,000.

Farnsworth says he likes to support the library because "it's one of the wonderful, outstanding institutions in Wayland. I have a real love affair with it."

Tickets for Barker's Dec. 2 concert, "Retrospective Repertoire and Old Favorites," with performances of Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, Chopin, Debussy and Mendelssohn, as well as a few others yet to be announced, will be on sale at the library. They will be priced at $10 for general admission and $15 for patrons. Patrons will be invited to a post-concert reception.