The name of Louis (Reg) Barnett has been associated with some much of the worth-while music making in our community, particularly among young people, for so many years, that his death leaves an unbelievable number of gaps in our musical life.
I knew him first as a bandmaster in the Black Watch, a post which he resigned shortly after the war to start training as a school music teacher. His first appointment, in 1950, was to schools in Perth and District, and almost immediately his concern at the lack of an orchestra in the city led him to call a meeting of those interested, which, in turn, lead to the formation of Perth Symphony Orchestra in 1951.
The chance of orchestral work in school attracted him to Dollar Academy where, in the course of his stay, he trained and built up a magificent school orchestra which those of us who have heard it still remember. He returned to Perth and very soon was battling to form a youth orchestra and, after efforts few of us knew, founded the Perth Youth Orchestra in 1962. He trained woodwind, brass and percussion players, and more recently, strings as well. the annual concert given by this orchestra with singers from Perth schools became one of the highlights of the musical season. It would ill serve the memory and devotion of its founder if this enthusiastic and competent young group were allowed to disintegrate.
As a member of the executive council of Perthshire Musical Festival his unique experience has been of inestimable value, and entries to the solo and ensemble classes consisted almost entirely of his pupils. From the schools which he visited he found time to train and enter choirs with conspicuous success. it is only a few weeks since we read how a choir from the Royal School of Dunkeld took first place in their classes at the National Mod at Inverness.
As musical director of Perth Amateur Operatic Society he was responsible for the preparation an presentation of the “New Moon” and “The Gipsy Baron” and had begin rehearsals for “Merrie England”. His association with the society goes back to the earliest years when, as a flute player, his work in the pit was distinguished by a professional expertise that was apparently unaffected by the limited time for practices.
And so in the full flow of his life of selfless activity he has left us, and we are the poorer for he passing of a musician who gave more to us than he could afford. It is left to us to see that his labours were not in vain.
Donald Maxwell (1967)