John Barber is a composer from Bristol with a passion for voices, collaboration and storytelling. His versatile, rhythmic and intensely dramatic music has been performed by some of the UK and Europe’s leading opera houses, theatres, ensembles and choirs including the Royal Opera House, Gothenburg Opera, BBC Symphony Orchestra and The Sixteen.
He has written several operas, including We Are Shadows for Spitalfields Music and Mighty Oaks for the Royal Opera House, as well as several large-scale oratorios, including Consider the Lilies – based on the stories of refugees in the UK – and Seven Seeds – a major retelling of the Persephone myth featuring 1500 singers, full orchestra and soloists. Barber works extensively on projects that combine professional and non-professional voices. He ran Woven Gold for over 10 years- a choir made up of refugees and asylum seekers and London-based musicians – and works regularly with the learning and participation departments of many of Europe’s leading arts organisations.
Barber’s practice is now developing into choral composition for professional singers, driven by a very personal engagement with what it means to write choral music. In particular he is concerned with choral music for atheists, challenging the choral tradition of music-as-liturgy. Projects for 2021/22 include The Selfish Giant for Garsington Opera, Existence – a major new commission for the Arctic Light Choir/Gothenburg Opera Youth Choir and Joy! – a response to the Ode to Joy for the massed voices of the Dartington International Summer School.