Salvation Army background provides foundation for rising music star
By: Brad Rowland
For many individuals with roots in The Salvation Army, music-making is a way of life. For most, it is a calling to service, utilizing music as worship and the ability to come together in fellowship with others. For some, however, the skills honed through the discipline of music can grow into a full-time occupation. A young Salvationist named Anthony Barrington is on that path, with a current address of New York City.
Anthony came by music naturally in that many in his family, including parents Andrew and Connie, are Salvationist musicians. In fact, his father, Andrew, serves as the divisional music director for Arkansas-Oklahoma, and, with that in mind, Anthony spent many hours in Army music programming.
“I think the combination of the Army background and growing up in a musical household like ours means
everything,” said Andrew Barrington. “Anthony took non-Army lessons in high school, but his teacher said he already had the goods. It was already there. I always say that what The Salvation Army is providing you, if you will take it and put the work in, it can take you anywhere. It’s incredible music education and, like many others, it was pivotal for Anthony.”
While the background of The Salvation Army isn’t one constantly associated with work as a professional musician, the influences of both the organization and his family have been instrumental in Anthony’s development and eventual journey to The Julliard School as a student studying trumpet.
“I think the Army influence, experience and background are huge advantages to me here, especially growing up playing cornet (in addition to trumpet). Nobody here at the school grew up playing cornet, and I’m cut from a different cloth because of that, which can be a playing advantage,” Anthony said.
Though music-making outside The Salvation Army can be quite different than the work of corps, divisional and territorial ensembles, Anthony’s craft was polished in a way that has proven to be advantageous.
“Growing up playing Salvation Army music, that kind of playing is challenging, and it really helped me to grow as a musician,” Anthony said. “I still hold it very closely to my heart, and being in a corps every Sunday is something I still very much value. I know that I’m called to be a part of a corps in some way. I don’t think I’ll ever let go of that.”
“My background makes me who I am here. People recognize me as someone from The Salvation Army, and I love that. I really embrace that. It’s just who I am and who I’ll always be.”
Julliard is perhaps the most prestigious musical institution in the country and, as such, it can be difficult to gain acceptance, particularly in Anthony’s chosen discipline. Anthony, while certainly a natural musician, including the presence of perfect pitch,
didn’t necessarily grasp the musical heights he was capable of at a young age. Through the mentoring and observation of others, however, he gained the confidence to seek the world of high-end schooling.
“When I started to get serious about playing and taking lessons and everything, people started telling me that I could audition for schools like Julliard,” Anthony said. “I didn’t necessarily think to myself that I could, but I was told that I could from people that would know, like my teacher and my parents. So, I told myself that it was possible and started practicing and sending in tapes.”
“Somewhere in the midst of the audition process, it started to occur to Connie and I that he was on a different level,” Andrew said. “Right before his senior year, his trumpet teacher took me to lunch and told me that Anthony should be auditioning for the top programs in the country and, while we already knew there was something special about him, it became very clear during that time.”
Given his impressive musicality, Barrington was in high demand from colleges and universities around the country, including numerous scholarship offers. Still, the allure of New York and, particularly, Julliard, rang true for him, even with less in the way of financial security in a high-priced program of study.
“When Julliard accepted me, that was it, really,” Anthony said. “I got into a few other schools, great schools, but, honestly, all I wanted to do was move to New York and study in the best school that I can.”
Though New York was unfamiliar territory for Anthony, he found solace in regular corps attendance.
“We’re very proud of him on many levels and that includes his musical ability and accomplishments,” said Andrew of his son. “But what I think Connie and I are most proud about is that, every Tuesday, he gets on the subway and goes up to the Manhattan Citadel Corps. And every Sunday, he’s there and involved. The fact that he’s doing everything he can possibly do to maintain his Salvationism and his relationship with the Lord, it just makes us so proud.”
Anthony aspires to play, and potentially teach, professionally, but he firmly believes he is called to minister within the Army and, more importantly, in the name of Jesus.
“I think it’s really awesome that God has given me this opportunity to go to Julliard, because I feel like I am able to reach out to people that I would never be able to reach out to otherwise,” Anthony said. “There is power in that and I’m blessed by him to have the gifts that he has given me. I plan to use them in the way he wants me to.”