Barry Smith (organist)

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Barry Smith (born 1939) is a South African organist, choral and orchestral conductor, author, and musicologist.[1]

Early life and education[edit]

Born in Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape Province, South Africa, Smith was a choirboy at St Mary's Collegiate Church.[2] Educated at the Grey School in Port Elizabeth (1946 – 1955), in 1956, Smith was awarded a scholarship to Rhodes University[2] in Grahamstown, Eastern Cape Province, where he completed his PhD degree. In 1960, Smith went to the United Kingdom on scholarship to the Royal School of Church Music.[2]


Smith then returned to South Africa to serve as Director of Music for two years at the Michaelhouse senior school for boys in KwaZulu-Natal province. In 1964, he was appointed organist and master of the choristers of St George's Cathedral in Cape Town, South Africa, a post he held until 2006 for a record forty-two years.[3]

From 1966 to 1999, Smith was on the staff of the Faculty of Music at the University of Cape Town, from which university he also holds a DMus degree. In 1964, Smith founded the St. George's Singers, which he directed until 2015.[4] Besides conducting in the United Kingdom, Austria, and Israel, Smith has made several solo recital tours both in America and England and played in Westminster Abbey and King's College, Cambridge.

He has adjudicated in Hong Kong and directed music courses in Perth, Australia and in Washington D.C. In June 2007, Smith and his St George's Singers took part in the Sir Edward Elgar 150th Anniversary Celebrations in Worcester, England, where he also conducted the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra in Worcester Cathedral. In 2013 he conducted the English Symphony Orchestra at the Bromsgrove Music Festival. Smith was the choirmaster and organist at St Michael's Catholic Church[5] in Rondebosch, Cape Town from 2007 until 2014.[6]

Honours and awards[edit]

In 1989 Archbishop Desmond Tutu awarded Smith with the Order of Simon of Cyrene, the highest honour the Anglican Church of Southern Africa can bestow on a layman.[1]

Smith has received honorary fellowships from the Guild of Church Musicians in the United Kingdom in 1989,[7] the Royal School of Church Music in 1994, and the Academy of St Cecilia in 2008.[8] He is an honorary associate of the Centre for the History of Music in Britain, the Empire and the Commonwealth at the University of Bristol.[9]

In 2009 the Cape Tercentenary Foundation awarded him the Gold Molteno Medal for lifetime achievement in the performing arts.[10] [11]

Smith received the Parnassus award from the Stellenbosch University music department in 2010, and in 2011 a mayor's medal from Cape Town mayor Dan Plato.[12]

In May 2013 he was appointed President of the Peter Warlock Society.[13]


Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ a b Marx, Fritz (28 April 2011). "Cape Town honours Zackie Achmat and others". Politicsweb. Retrieved 20 May 2011. 
  2. ^ a b c "Cape Philharmonic Oratorio Festival". Cape philharmonic orchestra. Retrieved 4 July 2008. 
  3. ^ "Cathedral Music". St George's Cathedral, Cape Town. Archived from the original on 25 July 2008. Retrieved 4 July 2008. Barry Smith was appointed as Organist and Master of the Choristers in 1964 – the first South African to hold this position, in which he continued for 42 years. 
  4. ^ Cape Times, 24 March 2015
  5. ^ "The St. Michael's Choir". St Michael's Catholic Church. Archived from the original on 10 August 2013. Retrieved 3 May 2011. 
  6. ^ "Posts and positions held". Retrieved 10 February 2014. 
  7. ^ "Officers of the guild". The Guild of Church Musicians. Archived from the original on 19 July 2008. Retrieved 4 July 2008. HONORARY FELLOWS [...] 1989 Dr Barry Smith 
  8. ^ "Honorary Members of the Academy". Academy of St Cecilia. Retrieved 20 May 2011. 
  9. ^ "About CHOMBEC". University of Bristol. 6 February 2011. Retrieved 20 May 2011. 
  10. ^ "The Cape Tercentenary Foundation Medal". 
  11. ^ Greyling, Eduard (5 November 2009). "Bydraers tot verskeie kunste vereer". Die Burger (in Afrikaans). p. 13. Smith vir sy lewenswerk op die gebied van musiek 
  12. ^ "City acknowledges outstanding individuals and organisations in civic honours ceremony". City of Cape Town. 28 April 2011. Retrieved 3 May 2011. 
  13. ^ Officials of the Peter Warlock Society

External links[edit]