John G. Barr (b. 1938) was born in Myrtle Point, Oregon. After beginning piano lessons at the age of six, he began organ and composition study in college. He graduated in 1960 from Manchester College in northern Indiana, receiving a B.S. in Music Education. He received masters and doctoral degrees in sacred music from the School of Sacred Music at Union Theological Seminary in New York City where his teachers included Donald Coats and Robert S. Baker for organ and Joseph Goodman for composition.
Barr was music teacher at Hillcrest School for Missionary Children in Jos, Nigeria, 1962–65; Organist/Choir Director at University Presbyterian Church, Madison, Wisconsin, 1965–68; and Professor of Organ and Piano at Bridgewater College, Bridgewater, Virginia, 1968–2003 retiring as Professor Emeritus. For much of this time he was also organist at Bridgewater Church of the Brethren. He has given a number of organ recitals, mainly in Virginia, and has numerous organ works with various publishers including Warner Brothers, H.W. Gray, Wayne Leupold Editions, and Lorenz Music Publishing.