John Barber (Choral Composition, 2021)000015

John Barber

Fellow in 2021 for Choral Composition

It is amazing to have a chance to delve into a passion project like this and am so grateful for the opportunity this award has given me. I feel like I have really advanced my composing practice."

Read John Barber's testimonial

John Barber is a composer from Bristol with a passion for voices, collaboration and storytelling. 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. He also wrote 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. 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 what it means to create choral music as an atheist; exploring the personal and universal resonances in sacred texts and placing secular texts in a traditionally sacred space.

Upcoming projects include The Selfish Giant for Garsington Opera, and Existence – a major commission for the Arctic Light Choir/Gothenburg Opera Youth Choir. Away from his own composition, John performs and records with pop experimentalists Firefly Burning who released their third album, Breathe Shallow, in 2019.