King Edward VII Spirituals

This will be of interest to those of a certain age on Norman Barnes (1914-2000), courtesy of Simon Lindley

Former Exeter Cathedral chorister Norman Barnes was, in terms of Sheffield’s musical community at its history, clearly “the right man in the right place at the right time.”

After return from war service, his long tenure as organist and choirmaster of St John’s Ranmoor from 1949 had begun with deputising for a friend and involved continuous service until 1983 as organist and choirmaster.

He was Director of Music at King Edward VII Grammar School for 29 years until retirement in 1976 and was to become the first conductor of (the then newly founded) Sheffield Bach Choir, a post he held with distinction until 1961 when he was succeeded by the Choir’s accompanist, Dr Roger Bullivant.

The Bach Choir had been established specifically to mark the 200th anniversary of Bach’s death in Leipzig in 1750 and sustains, even today, a considerable link between “town and gown” in the City and University of Sheffield.

Norman Barnes’s education after Exeter Cathedral was at Magdalen College School, Oxford and he was Organ Scholar of St Peter’s College in the same city from 1935 to 1939.

Prior to moving to Sheffield and King Edward’s, Norman was organist for a short time at St Margaret’s Church in Oxford of which the Reverend Geoffrey Lindley, father of present-day Bach Choir conductor, Dr Simon Lindley, is a former Vicar.

At its November 2016 concert Sheffield Bach Choir is including six short settings by Norman of Traditional Spirituals dating from over fifty years ago and composed especially for King Edward’s “Spiritual Choir”.

Originally reproduced by ‘Banda duplicator’ (a primitive hand-operated machine), the scores have now been re-set by King Edward alumnus David Hope to whom the Bach Choir is much indebted for this significant work.


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