John Barber

John Barber is a composer from Bristol with a passion for drama, collaboration and voices. He studied with Sir Harrison Birtwistle and has gone on to compose for some of the country's leading arts institutions and ensembles including the Royal Opera House, Shakespeare's Globe, Spitalfields Music and The Sixteen. 
His work has been recognised with various awards. His Cantata Consider the Lilies was the winner of a British Composer award in 2011. His opera, We Are Shadows, was the winner of a prestigious Royal Philharmonic Society award in 2012 and was also shortlisted for a British Composer award in the same year. Seven Seeds was also awarded an RPS award in 2016.

Collaboration is at the heart of John's work and philosophy. His work as a composer often involves devising and leading projects that bring professional performers together with non-professionals of all ages and abilities to make exciting new work. His work has taken him around the world - from Amsterdam to Brazil. He has recently contributed a chapter to a major new book, Beyond Britten, which looks at the legacy of Britten's famous Aspen Speech.

John also performs and records with his groundbreaking alt-folk band Firefly Burning who released their second album, Skeleton Hill, in 2015 to critical acclaim, after working with legendary producer Tim Friese-Greene (Talk Talk). He has been co-running Woven Gold - a band in which refugees and asylum seekers perform together with jazz and classical musicians - for nearly ten years.

Read an interview with John Barber here


John Barber – Sicut Lilium

I was honoured to be be asked to write a short piece for ORA’s song of songs recording. The plan was to create a short new setting of ‘Sicut Lilium’ so that the disc could begin and end with the same text – the Brumel setting at the beginning and mine at the end. Daunting – since the Brumel is a miniature gem of a piece. Aside from the simplicity and beauty of the writing, it felt so spiritually confident and hopeful. In my version I focussed on the image of the lily amongst the thorns – to me it suggests that you can’t have faith without doubt and you can’t have love without the possibility of losing it.

This commission will be released on an ORA album in late 2017.