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Academy Award Nominated feature documentary film score,UMass Dartmouth Visiting Faculty Fellowship Award, The Jerome Foundation Commission, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts Commission, The Martin Gruss Foundation, the New York State Council on the Arts Award, Meet the Composer Award, ASCAP Award and The John Lennon Songwriting Finalist.

Member of AF of M, Local 802, ASCAP, SAG

John La Barbera's experience includes roles as performer, composer, arranger, producer, author and educator. ​​From Classical to Jazz, from Medieval to Flamenco, from the music of the Renaissance to Italian Folk Songs to the captivating rhythms and melodies of Brazil –
In the words of the Woodstock Times: 
" La Barbera is North American born with the dance of music in his fingertips.. His articulations on either instrument, intimate and classically fine, are filled with the light of a born Latino."

Composing Awards and Commissions:

  • The Jerome Foundation, (commission)

  • Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts Award

  • The Martin Gruss Foundation Award

  • New York State Council on the Arts Award

  • Meet the Composer Award

  • ASCAP Award

  • The Italian Oral History Institute Award

  • UMass. Dartmouth -2016 Esposito Visiting Faculty Fellowship Award

  • The Cathedral of St. John The Divine (commission)

  • John Lennon Songwriting Contest Finalist

   La Barbera is recognized as a pioneer in reviving Southern Italian folk music of which he is one of the first transcribers of it in the US and has published two books with Mel Bay Publications on Italian Folk Music. His expertise in Italian traditional music, has made him a valuable resource for both film and theater.


Credits as composer for Films

Documentary Feature Films:

  • Children of Fate, 1992 Academy Award Nominated Feature Documentary- Winner of Sundance Festival 1992

  • Finding The Mother Lode: Italian Immigration in California (2013)

  •  Sister Italy (2012)

  •  Sacco and Vanzetti (2008) First Flight Films

  • Pane Amaro (2008)

  • Neapolitan Heart - Cuore Napolitano (2000)

  • La Festa (1996)

Feature Films:

  • The Bounty Hunter -2012 (Columbia Pictures) 2012 

  • Drifting (2014) Open City Films

  • What's up Scarlet (2005) Open City Films

  • Tarantella (1994)

Silent Films with new scores:

  • The Old Guitarist (2022)

  • 'A Santa Notte (1920)

  • The Regeneration (1915)

  • The Black Hand (1906)

  • The Musketeers of Pig Alley (1912)

  • The Adventures of Lieutenant Petrosino (1912)

  • Assunta Spina (1915) 

  • The Immigrant (by Chaplin -1917) 

  • The Adventurer (by Chaplin-1917)

Theater: Musical Director-Composer-Arranger, Sound Designer:

  • Souls of Naples (Theater for a New Audience) starring John and Aida Turturro. Off-Broadway

  • Kaos, (New York Theater Workshop) directed by choreographer Marta Clarke. Off-Broadway

  • LaMaMa E.T.C. productions of Teatro Patologico di Roma directed by Dario D’Ambrosi -Off-Broadway

  • Bible Women directed by Liz Swados Off-Broadway

  • Retzach, The Homecoming Project, Garcia Lorca's Yerma, Pushing Through directed by Shauna Kanter (Theater 54) Off-Broadway

  • The Voyage of the Black Madonna- I Giullari di Piazza (IGDP)

  • La Lupa-The She-Wolf- IGDP

  • The Dance of the Ancient Spider- IGDP

  • La Cantata dei Pastori-IGDP

  • The Adventures of Don Giovanni and His Servant Pulcinella-IGDP

  • After The Rain, Off-Broadway

Sacred Works-Oratorio

  • Stabat Mater: Donna di Paradiso

Published Works:

  • Italian Folk Music for Mandolin, 2012. Mel Bay Publications

  • Traditional Southern Italian Mandolin and Fiddle Tunes, Mel Bay Publications  2009

  • The Marimbaba Suite- for percussion quartet. Bachovich Music Publications, 2009.

  • Danza del Fuego- for solo marimba, Bachovich Music Publications, 2009

  • That’s Not Italian Music in Oral History, Oral Culture, and Italian Americans, Palgrave-MacMillan. 2005

  • Stabat Mater-Donna di Paradiso for piano reduction, chorus and solists. 2017


As a member of the American Federation of Musicians, Local 802, La Barbera gained a reputation as a sought out studio session player in New York City. 


His virtuosity on a wide variety of fretted string instruments has enabled him to record for some of Hollywood’s most prominent film composers, including Howard Shore, for the Columbia Pictures film Gloria, with Sharon Stone. 


He has appeared on recording and performance projects with many great artist including folk singer Judy Collins, rock drummer John Densmore of THE DOORS, actor Dominic Chianese (The Sopranos), Hollywood film soundtracks, Walt Disney Productions, TV and Radio jingles, Broadway actress and star of The Lion King, South African vocalist Tsiddi Le Loka and the famed Italian American - Neapolitan singer, Jimmy Roselli.


  • Tori-1978-His first professional recording was with Jazz flutist/composer Lloyd McNeil together with Buster Williams, Howard Johnson, Dom Salvador, Victor Lewis, Nana Vasconcellos and Dom Om Ramao

  • La Terra Del Rimorso- 1978 he recorded his first Italian album in Milano, Italy with the Pugliese folk group Pupi E Fresedde.

  • Addo T’a Pizzicato `a Tarantella 1981-IGDP

  • Sulillo Mio-1986 -IGDP

  • Dea Fortuna -1995

  • Gloria- with Sharon Stone-Columbia Pictures-1999

  • Earth, Sun and Moon- 2000

  • Global Celebrations -1998

  • In The Labyrinth-1998

  • My Beloved is Mine- with Judy Collins- 1998

  • Brazilian Treasures-1990 

  • Mediterranean Lullaby- 2001

  • Papa’s Lullaby -Ellipsis Arts 1999

  • Mother Earth Lullaby-2000

  • American Lullaby-2001

  • Riddle of The Sphinx- (recording on Arabic oud) with Mark Gross, Brain Blade, Joe Locke, and Mulgrew Miller- 2001

  • Walt Disney's World in Shanghai, China-2016 Recording of the best loved Disney themes for the Cinderella Castle. (Recording on Renaissance Lute)

  • Song' a Napulitano-2018- with Dominic Chianese-producer


His original music has been recorded by many jazz, rock and traditional world folk artists and ensembles. 


As a producer he has worked for  several labels including: Shanachie records, Meadowlark, Rounder Records, Lyrichord Disks, Ellipsis Arts, and Bribie Records.


Concert Artist: 

LaBarbera's  first debut as a performer was at the 1964-65 New York State World's Fair with his first rock group The Fugitives. Since 1973 he has performed in concert halls around the world with classical music, jazz and traditional world music (as composer, solo guitarist and chamber music), throughout Europe, South America, Canada and the US.


Concert Tours in Brazil: produced by the Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil, and SESC. ​

  • Rhythm of The Roots 

  • New Acoustic Music

  • String Ecstasy 

  • Tour with Brazilian virtuoso guitar group DUOFEL

Performance Venues:

  • Carnegie Hall 

  • The Montreal Jazz Festival

  • Lincoln Center

  • Guggenheim Museum 

  • Metropolitan Museum 

  • Smithsonian Institute

  • UCLA

  • Field Museum in Chicago

  •  Philadelphia Museum of Fine Arts

  •  San Francisco World Music Festival 

  • The World Music Institute 

  • Central Park Summer Stage

  • Jones Beach Theater where he opened for Sting, together with Palestinian oud and violin master Simon Shaheen and his group Quantara.


Film and TV Appearances:

  • When in Rome (Touchstone films),

  • The Bounty Hunter (Sony-Columbia),

  • The Moon in the Gutter (with Gerard Depardiu and Natasha Kinski ) Gaumont-Cinecitta` productions,

  • Neapolitan Heart (Cuore Napolitano) with Jimmy Roselli. Rome, Italy.

  • The Gossip Girls- Warner TV

  • Law and Order- Warner TV series

Lecture Series:

  • Boston University,

  • Columbia University

  • New York University

  • UMass Dartmouth

  • UCLA



For almost four decades internationally renown, guitar virtuoso, multi-instrumentalist, and composer John La Barbera has enchanted audiences throughout the United States, Europe and South America. Born In New York City, he discovered at  the early age of ten, the alluring beauty of the guitar and the richness and power of its rhythm. Immediately after graduating with a Bachelor of Music degree in classical guitar and composition from the Hartt School of Music in Hartford, Connecticut, he was awarded a scholarship to continue his graduate studies in Siena and Florence, Italy.


It was in Florence and Siena in the early 1970's when John launched his professional career where he first toured Tuscany and Switzerland with the SSMA  Chamber Orchestra and Early Music ensemble performing Medieval and Renaissance music.


He moved to Florence, where he then worked as a full time guitarist and arranger for the folk music and theater company, Pupi e Fresedde, who honored his virtuosity and brought him acclaim in Italy and the rest of Europe. During those years in Italy, the group left an indelible mark with a tremendous contribution to Italian folk music, and was part of the first wave of the 1970s Italian folk music revival.


 By 1977, the group inspired the German born director, Peter Schumann, puppet master and founder of The Bread and Puppet Theater to write “La Ballata di Masaniello” (The Ballad of the 14 days of Masaniello) and premiered the group on an American and European tour. The group presented to American audiences for the first time, in 1977, the music of the “Pizzica Tarantata” and other traditional folk music from the Salento region and Naples.


Upon his return to New York City in 1979, John brought back his experience and his transcriptions to form the Italian folk music and theater company, I Giullari di Piazza, together with vocalist-frame drummer Alessandra Belloni while he was the co-founder, musical director and composer-arranger.


The group became Artists -in -Residence at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in NYC in 1993.

In 1995 John was commissioned by the Cathedral (with funding from The New York State Council for The Arts) to compose a full length opera, "Stabat Mater-Donna Di Paradiso",  based on the text by the 13th century Franciscan mystic and poet, Jacopone di Todi.  The production was well received with much critical acclaim from The New York Times and the former  Dean of the Cathedral,  Reverend  James Parks Morton.


  • M.Mus. in Jazz Studies and arranging- William Paterson University 

  • B.Mus. in classical guitar - The Hartt School of Music, U. Of Hartford.

  • Music for Film with Ennio Morricone, Fondazione Accademia Musicale Chigiana- Siena, Italy

  • Sessione Sienese per La Musica e L'Arte- Siena Summer Sessions- Siena, Italy

  • Graduate Studies in Music History at Villa Schifanoia, Rosary College-Florence, Italy

  • Graduate studies in Ethnomusicology with Dr.Rose Brandel- Hunter College, NYC

Guitar Studies: 

Cross-trained in many styles including: Classical, Jazz, Traditional Folk, Rock, Flamenco, Brazilian, Renaissance, medieval, and Italian music.

  • Richard Provost-Classical

  • Joseph Iadone- Renaissance and Medieval studies (lute) 

  • Jose Rey Della Torre (Cuba)-Classical

  • Oscar Ghiglia (Italy) Classical

  • Dominick Minassi-Jazz, Pop and Rock

  • Don Felice Alfino- Italian, Pop and Rock

  • Juan Della Mata (Madrid Conservatory) Flamenco

  • Patrick O’Brian- Classical and Early Music 

  • Albert Valdes-Blain-Classical 

  • Alan De Mause-Jazz 

  • Gene Bertoncini-Jazz 

  • Carlos Barbosa-Lima (Brazil)-Brazilian

  • Elena Valdi -Classical


  • Bergen Community College in Paramus, New Jersey- currently an adjunct music professor 

  • Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts, Katonah, New York, currently an Artist-In-Residence

  • The Julius Hartt School of Music (University of Hartford)

  • The Guitar Study Center of the New School in N.Y. 

  • Sessione Sienese in Siena, Italy 

  • SASI in Bratislava, Slovakia

  • SESC in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

  • Private teacher for actress Jennifer Beals (mandolin coach for film Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle); private guitar teacher for the children of Paul Simon and Philip Glass, and private guitar teacher for the now Italian Princess Camilla de Bourbon of the Kingdom of Two Sicilies. 

He conducts workshops and lectures on Acoustic guitar styles, ethnomusicology, world music, and writes for Acoustic Guitar magazine.

He is a member of American Federation of Musicians, Local 802, ASCAP and SAG (eligible)


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