Steven Barker, the technical director and sound engineer for the Marina del Rey Summer Concert Series, passed away Monday, July 23rd, at Long Beach Memorial Hospital. He was 56.
Barker died of complications of diabetes following an injury to his foot last month.
According to those who worked closest with him, Barker, who was born in Akron, left behind “an enormous musical legacy” to the popular Marina del Rey concerts in Burton Chace Park and had been a part of the series since its inception in 2001.
Rich Capparela, the concerts’ host, was impressed by Barker’s technical expertise.
“What distinguished Steve from other sound men was the flexibility that he had to create the kind of sound quality that was [conducive] to the setting and the moment where he was working,” recalled Capparela, who is the afternoon drive personality at the University of Southern California’s radio station KUSC, where Barker also previously worked.
Frank Fetta, the conductor and musical director of the Culver City Symphony Orchestra, who also conducts the Marina concerts, remembered meeting Barker 12 years ago while recording a concert with baritone Frank Cato.
“Steve worked on the recording, and the quality of his work was unsurpassed,” said Fetta. “Like musicians are artists with their instruments, Steve, too, was an artist with his wonderful musical gift.”
“He was a genius at what he did,” added Marina Concert Series producer Virginia Bortin, who considered Barker a friend as well as a colleague. “I knew that we had the right person for the concert series when we got Steve.”
“He was such an important component to our series,” said Dusty Crane, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County Department of Beaches and Harbors, which sponsors the summer concert series. “His professionalism and expertise contributed greatly to the success of our concerts.
“Because of people like Steve, we were able to build on our successes. He really made the concert such a wonderful experience.”
In addition to producing the Marina Summer Concert Series, Barker did sound work in many concert halls and music venues, including a concert with the California Philharmonic at the Rose Bowl this year. He also served as the technical director of the Ojai Music Festival and was the sound designer and technician coordinator for the Long Beach Blues Festival.
“He was innovative, he had a great ear for music, and he will be deeply missed,” said Fetta.
“Steve was my friend and my partner, and I still can’t believe that he’s gone,” said Bortin.
Barker’s service was held at the Church of the Lighted Window in La Ca“ada Flintridge on Saturday, July 28th. Throughout the funeral, his loved ones were serenaded one last time with what his friends and family called his “musical memories.”