About us

Our mission

Our aim is to to perform primarily, but not exclusively, classical choral works to a good standard, within a sociable and friendly environment. We perform three major concerts a year, the March concert being part of the Barnes Music Festival.  As well as our regular concerts, we sing occasionally  for local events, most recently at the Christmas concert 2017 in aid of the Holly Lodge Centre:

"A belated but nonetheless heartfelt note to thank you and all the choir for your stunning performance at our Carol Concert last week.  The choir were the backbone of the evening..."   Brigadier Michael Smythe OBE. Chairman of Trustees

We hold a number of social events  – a monthly Pub night, barbecues, quiz suppers and a Christmas and summer party. The choir has visited Le Pecq, just outside Paris, with which Barnes has strong cultural links: we are visiting them in June 2018.

We welcome new members with good singing voices. Whilst it is obviously helpful if you can read music, sight-reading is not a requirement. Rehearsal tracks are posted on the website well in advance of concerts so that members can practise in their own time and we hold Workshops in preparation for major works.  New members will be asked to sing a few scales and appeggios with our Musical Director to help us decide which section is best suited to you.  It is expected that members will sing in the concerts.  To ensure that we perform to a good standard, we ask that you attend 75% of rehearsals in a term. 

Our conductor and musical director is Julian Collings and our accompanist is Elspeth Wilkes.

Choir History and Conductors

The Barnes Choir was established in 1952 and performed under the leadership of Ron Peck until his death in 1973. Peter Gellhorn became the conductor from 1973 until 2000, when Andrew Charity took over. Our conductor from 2013 has been Julian Collings.

Julian Collings -  Musical Director

Julian Collings was educated as an organ scholar at Tonbridge School in Kent, before winning an organ scholarship to Christ’s College, Cambridge, in 1999. He gained the associateship diploma of the Royal College of Organists while still at Tonbridge studying under Thomas Trotter and Sarah Baldock. He continued his organ studies in Cambridge with David Sanger, graduating with a music degree in 2002. While at Christ’s, Julian accompanied the college choir on tour to Scandinavia, the USA and Canada both as organist and conductor, as well as playing on a number of critically acclaimed CD releases.

Julian is currently Director of Music at St Cyprian's Church, Clarence Gate, and regularly deputises as an organist at St Bride’s Church, Fleet Street. In addition to his church work, Julian is Musical Director of the South London Singers, the Barnes Choir and London chamber choir Ad Libitum as well as founding Musical Director of the Arcubus Ensemble, an acclaimed vocal group promoting the choral works of living composers. In November 2015 Julian was appointed Musical Director of Epsom Choral Society.

As a recitalist he has performed extensively both in the UK and overseas as well as broadcasting for BBC radio. Recent recital engagements have included Sheffield Cathedral, St Alban’s Abbey and St John’s College Cambridge as well as a number of recitals around the Channel Islands, France, Germany, Spain and Estonia. As organist with Svyati Duo, he regularly collaborates with cellist Rebecca Hewes, performing concerts in the UK, Europe, Asia and the United States of America. They have also recorded three critically-acclaimed CDs on the Regent Records label with a DVD recording planned for 2017.

Elspeth Wilkes - Assistant Conductor & Accompanist

Elspeth is in much demand as a pianist, accompanist and repetiteur.

Born in Leigh-on-sea, Essex, Elspeth studied at King’s College, London, Trinity College of Music and the Royal Academy of Music. She has performed at venues including St John’s Smith Square; Linbury Studio, Royal Opera House; St Martin-in-the-Fields; Kings Place; Trafalgar Studios, West End; The Italian Cultural Institute and Hackney Empire as well as performing recitals in Greece, Turkey, Spain, Portugal, France and South Africa. Elspeth has performed at festivals including the Ravenna music festival, Italy, the Edinburgh Fringe festival and the Dublin Gay Theatre Festival where she won the prestigious ‘Oscar’ award for outstanding performance for her playing on Francis Bacon Opera. Elspeth has worked with BBC Wales, Royal Ballet, Royal Shakespeare Company and Southbank Sinfonia amongst others. She has worked as a repetiteur/musical director with many opera companies including Opera up Close, Opera Brava, Merry Opera Company, Northern Ireland Opera and Opera de Bauge, playing continuo on several of their productions and acting as chorus master since 2011. Elspeth works as accompanist/assistant conductor Thurrock Choral Society and is a member of the Bridgetower Ensemble. In her spare time, she enjoys quizzing and has appeared on several shows including Mastermind, The Chase, The Weakest Link and Countdown!