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John Barber

Finalist in 2012 for Opera Composition

Barber has composed for some of the country’s leading arts institutions, including the Royal Opera House, Wigmore Hall, Spitalfields Festival and Glyndebourne. He has also forged a career as a workshop leader, which has taken him around Europe.

“I am really passionate about creating music which is both accessible and challenging…not afraid to be emotionally direct. I want to tell stories in as interesting, clear, creative and exciting a way as possible.”

Working in collaboration is also extremely important to Barber and he has worked with dancers, hip hop producers, visual artists, actors and members of the community. We are Shadows, an opera in one act, combined the voices of a choral group, local school children and an ‘amazing’ community choir.

The Times gave the piece five stars; “We sat there with grins on our faces, totally in the grip of delight…full marks to Barber’s delicately textured orchestrations, dancing between extremes of light and shade”.

He also works with Woven Gold, a group of asylum seekers and refugees. His experience of writing a dramatic cantata for them, Consider the Lilies, “made me realise more than ever before that music is a way of saying the unsayable. Far from being an elitist art form opera is, can, and should be political and relevant, addressing today’s issues and involving all people in society”.

A member of the group said “When I heard that voice, coming from I don’t know where, I thought God had put me in an aeroplane and taken me to Heaven.”
He was the winner in the ‘community or education project’ category at the BASCA British composer awards with his piece Consider The Lilies.