Nicholas Barton

Nicholas Barton was born in North Walsham Norfolk in 1950 and his early musical career was as a classical guitarist. Holding a BBC contract, he made regular appearances on Look East, the first aged when 14. Whilst doing his A levels at Norwich City College his composing developed with the encouragement of his teacher the composer Howard Burrell. He completed his education with a BA Hons from Colchester Institute where he had composition lessons from Graham Whettam and Richard Arnell. Significant pieces written there were ‘Concertante for chamber orchestra’, ‘A Time to Die’ for chamber choir and percussion and the school opera ‘King Orfeo’.

In 1976 after a PGCE course he obtained a music teaching post at Matthew Arnold School Oxford, becoming Head of Department 3 years later. In 1979 he wrote ‘The Light of Setting Suns’ for soloist chorus and orchestra commissioned by Thurrock Choral Society with funds from Eastern Arts. In 1980 he was seconded to Reading University obtaining an M. Mus in composition and analysis and writing his first published piece ‘The End of Summer’ a major piece for solo guitar performed by Rose Andresier in The Purcell Room. He stayed at Matthew Arnold’s until taking early retirement in 2006 and moving back to Norfolk.

While in Oxford he divided his time between teaching, conducting and composing. He was the Principal Conductor of the Isis Chamber Orchestra from 1993-2001. During this time most of his music was written for young people and amateurs mostly to commission. These include three pieces for the County Youth Orchestra, a Horn Concerto in 1982, ‘Occasion’ in 1989, to commemorate the centenary of the County Council and ‘Movement Above Ground’ in 2003. Two commissions were from the Oxford Concerto Orchestra ‘Elizabeth’s Farewell for soprano and strings in1986 and ‘Night Song’ for flute harp and strings in 1990. In 1988 he wrote “A Christmas Carol’ a short opera for a joint schools’ project for the Ridgeway School in Devon and in1984 ‘Banned’ a musical for the Oxford Youth Theatre. In 1991 he wrote ‘Going for a Song‘ for the Oxfordshire Youth Chamber Choir which was performed several times in England and abroad and was sung in the semi-finals of the Sainsburys Choir of the Year.

His two string quartets so far have been written for professional groups, no1 in 1978 for the Guadagnini Quartet and no 2 in 2004 for the Alwyn Quartet recorded on ‘And the Birds Sang Too’ by University of Hertford Recordings.

Since moving back to Norfolk he has formed a close working relationship with the Keswick Hall Choir of Norwich, fulfilling 3 commissions from them so far, ‘Shakespeare Songs’ in 2014, ‘Singet Dem Herrn’ in 2016 and ‘Semper Dowland’ in 2019 all published by Bardic Edition.

In 2018 he wrote a major orchestral piece entitled ‘Accord’ for The Banbury Symphony Orchestra which has now been recorded by The Royal Scottish National Orchestra conducted by John Andrews and released on CHRISTOPHER WRIGHT/NICHOLAS BARTON: ORCHESTRAL MUSIC, Toccata Classics CD (TOCC 0466)

Because of his desire to be useful most of his music is written for young people and amateurs and by commission and some groups more than once. It covers a broad spectrum of orchestral music, chamber music, dramatic works, choral/vocal and instrumental pieces.

His music is published by Andresier Edition, Bardic Edition and Spartan Press.

Choral Music

Christmas Bells for SATB choir and organ [BDE 1181]
In the Bleak Midwinter for SATB choir and organ [BDE 1312]
Semper Dowland (Re-imaginings of two Dowland songs) for mixed voices and drums [BDE 1342]
Shakespeare Songs for mixed choir a cappella [BDE 1050]
Singet Dem Herrn for SATB choir a cappella [BDE 1180]

Instrumental Music

Ben’s Book of Lullabies for guitar solo [AND 2]*
Movie Music for guitar solo [BDE 1096]
The End of Summer for guitar solo [AND 3]*

Orchestral Music

Accord [available on hire only]

Vocal Music

Dear Lord for voice and piano [BDE 926]

*published by Andresier Edition available through Goodmusic Publishing

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