A native North Carolinian, Barbara spent her early career in Germany, returning in 1990 to reside in the state and work as soloist and chamber musician with some of the nation’s acclaimed ensembles and artists. Working a decade in Europe afforded her early career the opportunity to perform in the concert halls and music festivals of Great Britain, Western and Eastern Europe, the former Soviet Union, the Middle East, and Africa. The National Endowment for the Arts and the US State Department selected her to tour as an American musical ambassador, representing American classical music cultural for several years in concerts and master classes around the world.

Recipient of many international awards and prizes as soloist and chamber player, she was selected by the North Carolina Arts Council in 1989 to serve as a Visiting Artist. She founded the American Music Festival in Beaufort, NC and Chamber Music Wilmington, Wilmington, NC and serves as the Artistic Director for both. Her dynamic contributions to the state’s artistic life and arts education led to her recognition as a North Carolina Woman of Achievement and a YWCA Woman of Achievement in the Arts.

“CMW’s Artistic Director, Barbara McKenzie, has shown time after time that when it comes to classical music, you can have entertainment, substance, risk taking and thought-provoking music on one stage, in one night, and have it all fit together.” Wilmington Star-News


Staatliche Hochschule für Musik Westfalen-Lippe, Detmold, Germany 1980-1982
Artist Diploma studies
Piano: Hans Werner Kunze
Chamber Music: Jost Michaels
Art Song Accompanying: H. Weissenborn

Franz Schubert Institut, Baden bei Wien, Austria 1981
Art Song Accompanying: Jörg Demus, Emily Ameling and Hans Hotter


Peabody Institute and Conservatory of Music, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD
Master of Music 1978
Piano: Walter Hautzig and Leon Fleisher

Peabody Institute and Conservatory of Music, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD
Bachelor of Music 1976
Piano: Walter Hautzig and Leon Fleisher
Chamber Music: Berl Synofsky, Stephen Kates and Lawrence Lesser


  • International Chamber Music Competition, Paris, Grand Prize Winner 1987
  • International Brahms Competition, Hamburg, Third Prize 1984
  • International Young Concert Artist Guild Competition, NY, Finalist 1982
  • Peabody Conservatory Prize in Piano 1975
  • Baltimore Young Artist Competition First Prize 1975


Gaubert VIVANT! An International Touring Project 2009-2011

Artistic Director and Co-creator with Nicolas Duchamp.
Created this historical tribute to Philippe Gaubert, an in-depth look at the famous flutist, including a full recital program of new and unpublished works performed on the composer’s own flute, a first-time biography commissioned by the project, master classes on French interpretation and style and a documentary made for the project. Performances and presentations planned for music schools and conservatories in the USA, Japan, and Europe. “I love this sort of deep-deep exploration of a historically worthy musical topic. It helps put what we hear today into rich perspective.” Pierre Ruhe, arts critic, Atlanta Journal Constitution

Chamber Music Wilmington 1995-present
Co-founder, Artistic Director, Resident Artist.

Direct a 12-16 member Board of Directors and volunteers to create an award-winning, annual evening concert subscription series and annual educational outreach program. Created original arts integrated curriculums for the county schools in southeastern NC. Built alliances and collaborated with many NC cultural institutions such as the NC Aquarium at Fort Fisher, Cameron Art Museum, UNCW Watson School of Education, the Mary Duke Biddle Foundation and local education leaders. Enriched the state’s musical network by designing programming and collaborations with artist faculty from UNCSA, UNC-Greensboro, UNC-Chapel Hill, East Carolina University and artists from the NC Symphony. Duke University created several international performing art exchanges, including the children’s concert program from Paris, Fly, Flee, Flow.

Carolina Piano Trio 1998-present
Co-founder, Artistic Director, Resident Artist.

Founded with Elizabeth Anderson and Eric Pritchard. North Carolina’s only resident, touring piano trio.

American Music Festival 1990-present
Founder, Artistic Director, Resident Artist

Directs a 6-8 member Board of Directors. Created a successful and growing annual evening concert subscription series and educational outreach/arts integration program for Carteret, Craven and Onslow county schools. Established arts integrated, thematic collaborations with NC Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores, the NC Maritime Museum and Carteret County Schools.