What kind of choir are we?
We are an amateur choir of around 65 voices. We perform mainly, 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, such as the Christmas concert in aid of the Holly Lodge Centre and carol singing at Richmond Station for the Mulberry Centre. This October, we were invited to sing at the wedding of a local resident, which was a delightful addition to our extra-curricular activities.
"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. Holly Lodge
In Summer 2019, we combined with the Epsom Choral Society and Arcubus chamber choir to perform Elgar's "Dream of Gerontius" in Southwark Cathedral. The audience reception was outstanding, with people rising to their feet to applaud before the last notes had died away.
We hold a number of social events – a monthly Pub night, an annual Quiz night, a Christmas supper at a local restaurant after carol singing and a summer party. The choir has visited Le Pecq, near Paris, with which Barnes has strong cultural links: we visited them in June 2018. For 2021, we are planning our first overseas Concert tour.
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 the Barnes Choir and the chamber choir Ad Libitum, as well as the founding Musical Director of 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 and in 2019 as Musical DIrector of the Teddington 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.
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!