John T. La Barbera, composer, guitarist, multi-instrumentalist, educator and author whose expertise in Italian traditional music has made him a valuable resource for both film and theater directors. Awarded for his extraordinary role in the transmission and translation of Italian oral traditions and recognized as one of the first transcribers of Southern Italian folk music in America by The Italian Oral History Institute in 2005 and in 2016, he is the recipient of the John and Mary Esposito Visiting Faculty Fellowship Award in Italian American Culture and History from UMass at Dartmouth. He is the author of the first and foremost books published in the United States on the Italian mandolin, and he has been a guest lecturer on Italian music at Boston University, UMass at Dartmouth, and Columbia University.

Composing credits include awards, grants and commissions from Lincoln Center, The Martin Gruss Foundation, New York State Council on The Arts , the Jerome Foundation Meet The Composer, ASCAP, and finalist with his song “Sun Goes Down” in the Jazz category of the John Lennon Songwriting Competition. His musical theatre and concert works and original folk operas include Stabat Mater: Donna di Paradiso; The Voyage of the Black Madonna; The Dance of the Ancient Spider; The Adventures of Don Giovanni and Pulcinella; Earth, Sun and Moon; and La Lupa-The She-Wolf.

Published works include: Traditional Southern Italian Mandolin and Fiddle Tunes, and Italian Folk Music for Mandolin, Mel Bay Publications, 2009 and 2012; Stabat Mater Donna di Paradiso for mixed chorus and piano; The Marimbaba Suite- for percussion quartet and Danza del Fuego for solo marimba, both published with Bachovich Music Publications, 2009; and “That’s Not Italian Music” from Oral History, Oral Culture, and Italian Americans, Palgrave-MacMillan, 2009. His compositions and arrangements have been commissioned and performed for the Bloomfield Mandolin Orchestra in Bloomfield, New Jersey and is an honorary member of the orchestra.

Original Film scores include The Bounty Hunter (2011) Columbia Pictures; Academy Award Nominated feature documentary: Children of Fate  (1992) nominated for best Documentary feature and winner of the 1993 Sundance Film Festival; Finding The Mother Lode: Italian Immigrants in California, (2014); Sister Italy (2013); Sacco and Vanzetti (2006), winner of  the 2007 John E. O’Connor Film award; Pane Amaro (2006); What’s Up Scarlet? (2005) Tarantella, (1999) and has composed new soundtracks for  silent film classics including Charlie Chaplin’s The Immigrant (1917) and the Italian silent film, Assunta Spina (1915). He appears together with legendary singer Jimmy Roselli in the Italian and American film about the Neapolitan song, Neapolitan Heart- Cuore Napolitano (2002).

Film and TV appearances include mandolinist-band leader in the feature film When In Rome (2010) and guitarist in The Bounty Hunter (2010); Gossip Girl and Law and Order.

Off-Broadway composer and musical director credits include: Souls of Naples, starring John Turturro (The Duke Theater on 42 Street); Kaos, directed by Martha Clarke at The New York Theater Workshop; productions at La MaMa and The Theater for a New City.

Arranger  and guitarist for Broadway composer Liz Swados.

As a concert artist, he has performed throughout the United States, Europe and

South America including: Carnegie Hall, Alice Tully Hall of Lincoln Center, the Guggenheim Museum, Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC; The Smithsonian Institute, The Montreal Jazz Festival, The Felt Forum, the San Francisco World Music Festival, Central Park Summer Stage, the Field Museum in Chicago, the Philadelphia Museum of Fine Arts, The World Music Institute, UCLA, the Jones Beach Theater where he opened for Sting, together with Palestinian oud and violin master Simon Shaheen and his group Quantara, and concerts tours in Brazil sponsored by the Bancodo Brasil, Brasil Festeiro and SESC, in Sao Paulo.

He has performed and recorded with world class musicians and singers including: American Folk Singer Judy Collins;  Drummer John Densmore, of The Doors; Italian-American legendary singer Jimmy Roselli, in the film “Neapolitan Heart”; South African vocalist and star from Broadway’s The Lion King Tsiddi Le Loka; Irish Traditional Singer/Songwriter Susan Mc Keown; Visual Artist Matthew Barney; Palestinian oud virtuoso and violinist, Simon Shaheen; from Italy: Maria Carta, Pupi e Fressedde; Brazilian guitar duo DUOFEL and guitarist Paulo Freire; Jazz artists Mark Gross and Mulgrew Miller; master percussionist Glen Velez ;  Indian Bansuri Flute master, Steve Gorn; Russian-Jewish vocalist Masha Itkina;  Israeli- Sephardic vocalist  Ofri Eliaz; Countertenor Robert Crowe; composer/organist of the Cathedral of St. John Divine: Dorothy Papadakos; and Opera- soprano, Cristina Fontanelli.

His virtuosity on a wide variety of fretted string instruments has enabled him to recorded for some of Hollywood’s most prominent film composers, including Howard Shore, for the Columbia Pictures film Gloria, (with Sharon Stone), as well as a composer and house musician for numerous jingles for TV and radio.

He was a student of noted classical guitarist Richard Provost at the Hartt school of Music and attended master classes in classical guitar with concert artists: Jose Rey Della Torre (Cuba) and Oscar Ghiglia (Italy). He was also a student of guitarists: Elena Valdi, Dominick Minassi, Juan Della Mata (Madrid Conservatory), Patrick O’Brian, Albert Valdes-Blain; Alan De Mause, Gene Bertoncini, Carlos Barbosa-Lima (Brazil). Cross-trained in many styles including: Classical, Jazz, Traditional Folk, Rock, Flamenco, Brazilian, Renaissance, medieval, and Italian music he performs on a wide variety of traditional plucked stringed instruments from around the world.

He holds a Master in Music in Jazz Studies and Arranging at William Paterson University (N.J.); Bachelor of Music in Classical Guitar from the Hartt School of Music, (Univ.of Hartford), graduate studies at Hunter College (NYC) in ethnomusicology; Villa Schifanoia (Rosary College), in Florence: and the film music seminar with film composer, Ennio Morricone at the Academia Chigiana in Siena, Italy. He conducts workshops and lectures on mandolin and acoustic guitar styles, ethnomusicology, world music, and has written for Acoustic Guitar magazine. His music has been recorded on Shanachie records, Meadowlark, Rounder Records, Lyrichord Disks, Ellipsis Arts, and Bribie records. Website: