Principal Conductor – Max Barley

Guildford Chamber Choir appointed their new Principal Conductor, Max Barley, with effect from September 2018. Max succeeds Steven Grahl who led the choir for 11 years before becoming Director of Music at Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford and Conductor of Schola Cantorum.

Max began his musical life as a chorister at King’s College, Cambridge, later becoming organ scholar of St John’s College, Oxford where he read Modern Languages and was responsible for directing the chapel choir. He studied conducting in London and at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater in Munich, and is now pursuing postgraduate studies at the Royal Academy of Music, studying choral conducting with Patrick Russill and organ with David Titterington.

In addition to taking over as Principal Conductor of Guildford Chamber Choir, Max is currently Director of Music at St Mary’s Wimbledon and Music Director of the Choir of the 21st Century, Eltham Choral Society and Wimbledon Youth Choir. Formerly Assistant Director of Tiffin Boys’ Choir and Trinity Laban Chapel Choir, Max has also worked regularly with several other London choirs in addition to working on choral courses in the UK and China including Eton Choral Courses, the National Children’s Choir, and National Youth Choir of Wales.

Plans for 2019/20 include being Chorus Master for Sian Edwards and London Schools Symphony Orchestra at Barbican in works by Schnittke, Berlioz and Penderecki; guest-conducting Rodolfus Choir and assisting the Berlin Radio Choir for a recording of the 20th century German composer, Rudolf Wagner-Regeny. In addition, with his regular groups, Max conducts Howells Requiem, Vaughan Williams Serenade to Music, Brahms Partsongs, Bach St John and St Matthew Passion, Vaughan Williams Fantasia on Carols, Ramirez Navidad Nuestra, as well as commissioning seven composers to write works based on Christ’s Seven Last Words from the Cross. At the Royal Academy of Music, he takes part in masterclasses, with David Hill, Paul Brough (and the BBC Singers) and Leipzig professor Roland Börger.

On his appointment, Max wrote: “I’m thrilled and honoured to be given the opportunity to work with such a musically quick-witted group of singers, and to build on Steven Grahl’s wonderful work. The choir's energy for and joy in their singing was clear from the word go. I am excited about what lies ahead.” Following enthusiastic reviews of Max’s inaugural concert with us in November, Guildford Chamber Choir looks forward to continuing its musical journey with this exciting young conductor.

January 2020