Barry Rose

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Barry Michael Rose OBE, FRAM, FRSCM, Hon.D.Mus, Hon.FGCM, Hon FRCO, M.Univ., (Surrey) (born 24 May 1934) is a choir trainer and organist. He is best known for founding the choir and the pattern of daily sung Worship at the new Guildford Cathedral in 1961,[1] and later, on 29 July 1981, directing the music at the wedding of Charles, Prince of Wales and Diana, Princess of Wales formerly Lady Diana Frances Spencer, at St Paul's Cathedral in London.


Born in the borough of Chingford, Essex, England, (now part of the London Borough of Waltham Forest) Rose grew up playing hymns on the piano at his local Sunday school, and later accompanying the choir on the harmonium at the mission church of St Anne's Chingford Hatch. Leaving the Sir George Monoux Grammar School, Walthamstow, at the age of 16, he set out on a career in commerce, working in the insurance departments of W. H. Smith & Son Ltd. and Joseph Rank Ltd. In 1956 he joined Martindale Sidwell's choir at Hampstead Parish Church as a bass, going on from there two years later to become organist and choirmaster at St Andrew's Church, Kingsbury, North West London. It was while he was at Kingsbury that he decided to leave the world of commerce, and despite not having any of the required qualifications for entry, the principal (Sir Thomas Armstrong) offered him a place at London's Royal Academy of Music to study organ with C. H. Trevor.[2] In April 1960, whilst still an unqualified academy student, at the age of 25 he became the youngest cathedral organist in the country when he was appointed as the first Organist & Master of the Choristers at the new Guildford Cathedral.[3] At Guildford he founded a choir to sing the daily services, their first public appearance being the service of consecration on 17 May 1961 in the presence of the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh and other members of the Royal family. Just four years later, his new choir was 'discovered' by EMI, & through the enthusiasm and commitment of producer Brian Culverhouse, they made several best-selling recordings in the Cathedral, later awarded Platinum, Gold, & Silver discs.

In 1974, Rose was invited to move to St Paul's Cathedral, initially as sub-organist, and in 1977 was appointed to the specially created post of Master of the Choir. He took over those duties at the Silver Jubilee Service for HM Queen Elizabeth on 3 June 1977, for which he wrote a setting of Psalm 121,[2] and from then on directed the choir in their daily Worship Services, several State occasions, as well as a highly successful visit to USA & Canada in June, 1980. Much to the Chapter's displeasure, and also that of his colleague Christopher Dearnley (the Cathedral organist), he introduced his choristers to the world of pop-music, making a Gold disc recording of 'My Way'[2] as well as a Christmas 'single' with one of his former Kingsbury choirboys Chris Squire (of the progressive rock group YES), and several backing tracks for other similar lighter style songs. Soloists from among the boys also provided the original recordings of 'We're walking in the air' from The Snowman (Peter Auty), and the closing signature tune – Geoffrey Burgon's setting of the Nunc Dimittis – for the TV series Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (Paul Phoenix). Several of the choristers also took part in the well-known Paul McCartney song We All Stand Together for the animated film Rupert and the Frog Song which reached No. 3 in the U.K. Pop-charts. Rose left St Paul's in 1984 after a major difference of opinion with senior members of the clergy.[4]

From 1971 to 1990, he was also Religious Music Adviser to the BBC's Head of Religious Broadcasting BBC, in succession to George Thalben Ball, a post that included regular broadcasts of The Daily Service and the editorship of the weekly Choral Evensong broadcasts.

After leaving St Paul's he became Master of the Choirs at the King's School, Canterbury. His last Cathedral post was in 1988, as Master of the Music at the Cathedral & Abbey Church of St. Alban (Hertfordshire) St Albans Cathedral Choir, from which he retired on 25 December 1997.

In the Queen’s Birthday Honours List announced on 13 June 1998 he was appointed OBE for his services to cathedral music.[3]

A regular visitor to the USA, he has links with choirs in New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Philadelphia, and still continues to work with them in a regular basis.


  1. ^ Carpenter, Simon (1990). "In the Beginning – Barry Rose". Musical Opinion. 113: 310–311.
  2. ^ a b c BBC "Woman’s Hour": Barry Rose interview (Radio broadcast). BBC Radio 4. 25 July 1979. Archived from the original on 10 November 2017.
  3. ^ a b Barry Rose (Choral Conductor, Organ)
  4. ^ Barry Rose Gettysburg Times, 5 July 1984