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St.Albans Abbey, 1988-97

NEW ! - watch the Abbey Choristers live, on afternoon television, Christmastide, 1990

Exterior view of St Albans CathedralAfter leaving St.Paul's Cathedral, in the Summer of 1984, Barry Rose and his family moved to Canterbury, where he had been appointed as Master of the Choirs at The King's School, a post specially created for him by the Headmaster, Canon Peter Pilkington.

Nearly four years later, in April 1988, The Very Reverend Peter Moore, Dean of St.Albans, contacted Barry to seek advice about a successor to Colin Walsh, the Abbey's Master of the Music, who had just been appointed to Lincoln Cathedral. As a result of that conversation, and also with the active support of one of the long-serving members of the choir (as well as, behind the scenes, Archbishop Robert Runcie - formerly Bishop of St.Albans), Barry and his wife went to meet the Dean, and came away from St.Albans having been persuaded to consider the possibility of becoming the Abbey's next Master of the Music.

It was a difficult decision as to whether or not to leave Canterbury, but in the end, they accepted, and with their three children, moved to St.Albans in August, 1988.

The next nine years were to prove exciting, exhilarating and musically fulfilling. The Abbey had long enjoyed a well deserved reputation for the quality of its choir, through the work of previous Masters of the Music, including Meredith Davies, Peter Burton, Peter Hurford and Stephen Darlington, and although there is no choir school at St.Albans, or any link to one specific primary or secondary school, the boys of the choir had (and still have) a regular weekly pattern of pre-school morning rehearsals, as well as singing Evensong on four weekdays, and two or three Sunday Services. The Lay Clerks (gentlemen of the choir) were all expert and gifted singers, and they joined the boys for a Friday evening rehearsal, Saturday Evensong, the Sunday Services, and many special occasions through the year.

Throughout his time at the Abbey, Barry worked closely and happily with his colleague Andrew Parnell to maintain and build on the musical standards in the daily sung Services, and the reputation of the choir was further enhanced through several broadcasts on radio and television, CD recordings, as well as with 5 visits to the USA, where the choir sang in a variety of venues in Washington, Philadelphia, New York, Connecticut, and Boston.

The musical life of the Abbey also owes a huge debt to the continuing succession of Organ Scholars, and during the years 1988-97, they were:

Nicholas Robinson (now at St.Peter's Church, St.Albans, and Wycombe Abbey School),
Sean Farrell (formerly at Ely & Rochester Cathedrals, Trinity College of Music, and now organist at Wellington College, Berkshire),
Lee Ward (formerly organist of Hampstead Parish Church and now living and working in Sao Paulo, Brazil),
Nigel McClintock (formerly at St.George's Church Belfast, and Croydon Parish Church, and now at St.Peter's Cathedral, Belfast),
Robert Sharpe (formerly at Lichfield & Truro Cathedrals, and now Master of the Music at York Minster),
Richard Tanner (formerly at Blackburn Cathedral, and now Director of Music at Rugby School),
Christopher Betts (formerly at Magdalen College, Oxford and St.Mary's Collegiate Church, Warwick, and now organist of the National Cathedral, Washington DC, USA)
Peter Dyke (formerly at Newport Cathedral, and now assistant organist of Hereford Cathedral).

Barry 'retired' from St.Albans on Christmas Day, 1997, and since then has pursued an active life as a freelance musician, as well as indulging his passion for collecting and restoring vintage fountain-pens (see www.writetime.co.uk)

Gallery >> (click any thumbnail for full-size image)
Thumbnail of St Albans Cathedral interior - click to enlarge
Thumbnail of St Albans Cathedral interior - click to enlarge
Thumbnail of St Albans Cathedral interior - click to enlarge
Thumbnail of St Albans Cathedral interior - click to enlarge
Thumbnail of the Lay Clerks of St Albans 1997 - click to enlarge
Interior views of St Albans Abbey
The Lay Clerks of St Albans, 1997