Barbara Pickhardt has had a multi-faceted career involving teaching, conducting, composing, arranging and performing as a pianist and harpsichordist. She earned undergraduate and graduate degrees with honors from both the University of Minnesota and Westminster Choir College (Princeton, NJ), where she received the Ruth and Raymond Young Award in Composition. She has been the artistic director and conductor of the choral ensemble Ars Choralis since 1976, leading the chorus in traditional as well as out-of-the-ordinary choral performances of words and music. Programs range from Faure’s Requiem and Orff’s Carmina Burana to a series of Messengers of Peace concerts and Music in Desperate Times: Remembering the Women’s Orchestra of Birkenau.
Recognized as one of the Hudson Valley’s foremost choral directors and keyboard artists, Pickhardt is a founding member of the Woodstock Chamber Players, with whom she toured the Northeast as the ensemble’s pianist and harpsichordist. Pickhardt joined the Linden Piano Trio of Pittsburgh, MA for its Germany/Austria tour. She was affiliated with the Woodstock Chamber Orchestra as harpsichordist, pianist and supporting choral conductor for over twenty years. Pickhardt has led the choral music department at SUNY Ulster, where she also taught class and applied piano. She was the assistant music director/pianist of Overlook Lyric Opera and worked with composer Robert Starer as pianist and stage director for his late operas, performed in the Hudson Valley and in New York City.
In 1995 Pickhardt founded the Hudson Valley Youth Chorale and, as its artistic director for the following 13 years, led the chorus in performances throughout New York State and abroad. As a member of the Maverick Concerts Board of Directors she coordinated its Children’s Concert Series and Summer Prelude Concerts. Since 2000, she has teamed with lyricist Johanna Hall to write the operas Mary in the Garden, Hope, and Miracle in Bethlehem. As the Children’s Choir director at Christ’s Lutheran Church, Woodstock, she wrote and directed nine musicals performed to benefit orphaned children in Kenya.
Mother of cellist Erica Pickhardt and pianist Kristen Tuttman, Barbara Pickhardt maintains an active piano studio in her home in Woodstock, NY where she also continues to create choral programs and to compose and arrange choral music.