Stage / Theatre

shifting mechanism (cropped) (stage) 2  1994 Dance on the Beat WCMD 1 (orchestral) cropped dark 2  Ibi and viol (concerts) cropped with text  James Hall (vocal)2  Film and text

Listed in reverse chronological order

Michelangelo Drawing Blood (2013)

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A music-theatre work in one act

Composed for Countertenor, Bass Recorder, Theorbo, Percussion (Timpani, Dulcimer and Tubular Bells) and Viola da gamba; Choir (SATB); Trombone ensemble (Alto, 2 Tenors, Bass)

duration: 75 minutes

Michelanglo Drawing Blood website

Description
Inspired by Michelangelo’s sketchbooks, sonnets and figure studies,
Michelangelo Drawing Blood uses as a starting point the artist’s own concept of “releasing” a sculpture, and explores the process of creativity and creation.

Through a series of a dozen scenes – episodic, real and imagined – the work contrasts Michelangelo’s conception of creativity and divine vision with his own internal struggles.For Michelangelo Drawing Blood website, click here

First performed at Forum Theatre, Malvern on 22 March 2013
with James Hall (countertenor), László Rózsa (bass recorder), Jamie Akers (theorbo), Michael Clark (percussion), Ibrahim Aziz (viola da gamba)

Press
“Barber’s score uses Renaissance instruments – theorbo, bass recorder, and viola da gamba – alongside contemporary percussion. Setting extracts from the Catholic mass and from Michelangelo’s own writings (even including a shopping list), Barber creates a palindromic structure over a series of 17 scenes. The music is atmospheric: the clear tone of James Hall’ss countertenor solos have a haunting quality, while antiphonal effects created by pre-recorded material, combining voices with brass instruments, add to the spatial experience…The sculptural element of Alex Robertson’s designs are captured on a suspended bas-relief, on to which video images are projected, but it’s the music’s balance of muscularity and sensitivity that emerges most strongly.”
Rian Evans, The Guardian, 4 April 2013

“This extraordinary piece of music theatre, created by Sound Affairs, is almost in the nature of a seance, a hypnotic blend of music, dance and theatrical staging which uses cleverly arranged light structures in a compelling way. The general theme is based on the sketches Michelangelo drew up for the Battle of Cascina a fresco he never completed. Two dancers present the artist’s strivings as he dreams of the fresco, he will never bring into the light. Here male nudity is used throughout the evening to underline Michangelo’s adoration of the male body as a conduit to the mind of God. This is bravery of a kind I rarely meet with in the theatre.”
Richard Edmonds, Birmingham Post, 2 April 2013

Wales Arts Review

The Public Reviews

Irving’s Words (blog)

22.03.13          MALVERN Forum Theatre
27.03.13          CARDIFF Sherman Cymru
25.04.13          LONDON Southbank Centre, Purcell Room
26.04.13          MANCHESTER Royal Northern College of Music
27.04.13          LIVERPOOL Unity Theatre
03.05.13          CAERNARFON Galeri
07.05.13          CAMBRIDGE Mumford Theatre
08.05.13          SPALDING South Holland Centre
09.05.13          BIRMINGHAM mac
10.05.13          SWANSEA Taliesin
17.05.13          BRECON Theatr Brycheiniog
14.06.13          CHESTER Music Festival
11.07.13          CHELTENHAM Music Festival

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Boulevard of Broken Dreams (2009)

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Music for a ballet choreographed by Jean Abreu

amplified string quartet: 2 vln, vla, vcl

duration: 80 minutes

Description
Boulevard of Broken Dreams
explores how people meet in unpredictable ways, as well as the tension created between characters in public spaces and how bonds are created and dissolved in the space of a day.

The music takes its starting point from Plaza de Armas (Place of Arms), the name of the main square in many Latin American cities surrounded by government buildings, churches, and other structures of cultural and political significance. Other sections of the score relate to different types of public areas across the globe.

First performed by the Mavron Quartet at Taliesin Arts Centre, Swansea on 12 February 2009
with Christiana Mavron (violin), Katy Rowe (violin), Benjamin Kaminski (viola), Lucy O’Connor (cello)

Press
“Charlie Barber’s music was extraordinarily haunting, barbed, darkly beautiful and at times a little chilling.”
Graham Williams, Swansea Evening Post, 16 February 2009

Ballet.co magazine review

12.02.09            SWANSEA Taliesin
13.02.09            GRANTHAM Guildhall Arts Centre
14.02.09            SPALDING South Holland Centre
16.02.09            CAMBRIDGE The Junction
17.02.09            BROMSGROVE Artrix
18.02.09            ABERYSTWYTH Aberystwyth Arts Centre
19.02.09            MILFORD HAVEN Torch Theatre
24.02.09            ORMSKIRK Rose Theatre
25.02.09            CARDIFF Sherman Cymru
27.02.09            LONDON The Place
28.02.09            LONDON The Place
04.03.09            SALISBURY Salisbury Arts Centre
07.03.09            BATH University of Bath, ICIA
08.03.09            GUILDFORD International Music Festival
10.03.09            ALSAGER Arts Centre
11.03.09            MOLD Clwyd Theatr Cymru
12.03.09            MANCHESTER Dancehouse Theatre

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BreakBeats (2005)

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Music for a multimedia event with piano, percussion, DJ and breakdancers

duration: c. 60 minutes

Description 
A fusion of live music, breakdancing, DJing and digital video

First performed at The Gate, Cardiff on 19 May 2005
with David Appleton (piano), Matthew West (percussion), DJ Jaffa

Press
“Here was club culture slamming head-on to ‘art’ as my mother knows it, and finding itself the better for it. Set to a score by composer Charlie Barber it made great entertainment from the off. A belting slab of a performance.”
Ben James, Kruger Magazine, Issue 7

19.05.05         CARDIFF The Gate
20.05.05         PONTARDAWE Arts Centre
21.05.05         ABERTILLERY Community Theatre
03.06.05         HOLYHEAD Ucheldre Centre
04.06.05         CAERNARFON Galeri
01.03.06         HONG KONG IFC Shopping Mall
02.03.06         HONG KONG IFC Shopping Mall
03.03.06         HONG KONG IFC Shopping Mall
04.03.06         HONG KONG IFC Shopping Mall
05.03.06         HONG KONG IFC Shopping Mall
06.03.06         HONG KONG IFC Shopping Mall
22.09.06         CARDIFF The Gate
23.09.06         BLACKWOOD Miners Institute
28.09.06         PONTARDAWE Arts Centre  
30.09.06         HOLYHEAD Ucheldre Centre
04.10.06         ST ASAPH Arts Centre
05.10.06         ABERYSTWYTH Arts Centre
10.10.06         NEWTOWN Theatr Hafren
11.10.06         LONDON The Space
12.10.06         TAUNTON The Brewhouse
13.10.06         DARTMOUTH The Flavel
14.10.06         FALMOUTH Arts Centre
10.07.07         CARDIFF Wales Millennium Centre foyer event
12.07.07         LINCOLN Terry O’Toole Theatre

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Shot in the Head (2000)

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A musical photograph devised by Charlie Barber, David Hughes (director) and Sophia Lycouris (choreographer)

s sax, vib, vln, vcl, db

duration: c. 60 minutes

Description 
Using a backdrop of silent horror movies, film noir, and archive footage, Shot in the Head takes an episodic journey through the darker moments of the twentieth century.Drawing parallels between the rise of fascism in the Berlin in the 1920’s, the McCarthyite USA of the fifties and the surveillance obsessed London of the 90’s, Shot in the Head looks at what has been lurking in the shadows of our living memories.

First performed at Chapter Theatre, Cardiff on 23 June 2000
with David Hughes (performer), Sophia Lycouris (dancer), Simon Stewart (soprano saxophone), Colin McCann (vibraphone), Jeff Moore (violin), Sharon McKinley (cello), Paula Gardiner (double bass)

Press
“With its joint themes of witnessing and evidence, Shot in the Head took us on a dark, death-filled trip from the streets and sewers of Harry Lime’s Vienna to the horrors of the Cromwell Street cellar, from the Bertolt Brecht’s examination during the Hollywood era of the McCarthy witchhunts to Albert Speer and others of Hitler’s staff. Disjointed in time, this was a trip of emotion not history. It was a truly multimedia performance. Charlie Barber’s score, performed live, successfully, sometimes disturbingly, evoked the spirit of place. His music took us by the hand into the backstreets of a decadent post-war Vienna and never really released us again.”
Sue Burnett, The Western Mail, 27 June 2000

23.06.00         CARDIFF Chapter Theatre
24.06.00         CARDIFF Chapter Theatre
28.06.00         BRECON Theatr Brycheiniog
29.06.00         ABERGAVENNY Borough Theatre
30.06.00         FISHGUARD Theatr Gwaun

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Conceived Sheraton Plaza (1991)

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Music for a ballet choreographed by Andy Howitt

s sax, b sax, tpt, tbn, 3 perc, pno, 2 vln, vla, vcl, db

duration: 50 minutes

Description 
Before his gaudy death in New York in 1953, and against the threat of the Cold War, Dylan Thomas met in a hotel room with Stravinsky to plan a radical opera set in a post nuclear society where a new genesis meant a fresh start for the last man and woman on earth.After the success of The Rake’s Progress opera (with W H Auden), Stravinsky was eager to work with Wales’ greatest poet, then basking in the success of Under Milk Wood.This project takes up the story and asks, what might have been?This musical drama explores the jagged chaos of Thomas’ last days: high ideals amid the low life of New York, bitter memories of a failed marriage in rural Wales, the mysterious unfinished Elegy, and a sudden, passionate, commitment to strike in a bold new direction.

First performed by Charlie Barber + Band at Sherman Theatre, Cardiff  on 15 November 1991
with James Mainwaring (soprano saxophone), Matthew Bailey (baritone saxophone), Jonathan Mainwaring (trumpet), Gwyn Daniels (trombone), Phil Girling (percussion), Andy Cookson (percussion), Jonathan Helm (percussion), John Jones (piano), Alison Francis (violin), Richard Treglown (vilin), Matthew Roberts (viola), Vicky Higginson (cello), Robin Hames (double bass)

15.11.91      CARDIFF Sherman Theatre
16.11.91      CARDIFF Sherman Theatre

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Duchess of Malfi (1990)

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Incidental music for theatre

2 tpt, 2 tbn, s sax, a sax, t sax, b sax, timp, db

duration: c. 40 minutes

Commissioned by Moving Being Theatre Company

Description
Incidental music for the play by John Webster scored for an octet of brass and wind plus timpani and double bass.

First performed at St Stephen’s Theatre Space, Cardiff on 14 May 1990
with Jonathan Mainwaring (trumpet), Andrew Jones (trumpet), Gwyn Daniels (trombone), Pete Smith (trombone), James Mainwaring (soprano Saxophone), Nick Wilkinson (alto saxophone), Peter Stacey (tenor saxophone), Matthew Bailey (baritone saxophone), Andy Cookson (timpani), Davey Strachan (double bass)

Press
“Ten musicians play brass sonorously, threateningly, lining up at the sides of the action..Charlie Barber’s music is one of the triumphs”
David Adams, The Guardian 22 May 1990

14.05.90            CARDIFF St Stephen’s Theatre Space
15.05.90            CARDIFF St Stephen’s Theatre Space
17.05.90            CARDIFF St Stephen’s Theatre Space
18.05.90            CARDIFF St Stephen’s Theatre Space
19.05.90            CARDIFF St Stephen’s Theatre Space
28.05.90            CARDIFF St Stephen’s Theatre Space
29.05.90            CARDIFF St Stephen’s Theatre Space
30.05.90            CARDIFF St Stephen’s Theatre Space
07.06.90            CARDIFF St Stephen’s Theatre Space
08.06.90            CARDIFF St Stephen’s Theatre Space
09.06.90            CARDIFF St Stephen’s Theatre Space
11.06.90            CARDIFF St Stephen’s Theatre Space
12.06.90            CARDIFF St Stephen’s Theatre Space
13.06.90            CARDIFF St Stephen’s Theatre Space
21.06.90            CARDIFF St Stephen’s Theatre Space
22.06.90            CARDIFF St Stephen’s Theatre Space
23.06.90            CARDIFF St Stephen’s Theatre Space

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Two Way Mirror (1985)

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Incidental music for theatre

scored for piano, strings and percussion

duration: c. 25 minutes

Description
A theatre piece based on the Profumo Affair and the trail of Stephen Ward. Incidental music scored for piano, strings and percussion with Lol Coxhill (soprano saxophone). Original text for the track Rumour Memorandum by Gareth Jones.
1 The House Party
2 Confidential Report
3 Rumour Memorandum
4 Television Eye
5 Mirror Music

Musicians for recording:
John Rayson, Domini Lipman, Philip Tomkin (violas); Alexandra Robinson (cello); Bill Graham-White (double bass); Dominic Hackett (percussion); Lol Coxhill (soprano saxophone); Charlie Barber (piano); Gareth Jones (narration)
Recorded at Loco Studios, Caerleon, Gwent in September 1985
Recording engineer: Roger Grey

Theatre work first performed by Appeal Products on 7 October 1985

07.10.85            LEEDS Trinity & All Saints College
10.10.85            READINGBulmersheCollege
30.10.85            EXETER University
01.11.85            FROME Merlin Theatre
02.11.85            FROME Merlin Theatre
05.11.85            WAKEFIELD Arts Centre
07.11.85            LEEDS Polytechnic, Creative Arts Centre
08.11.85            LEEDS Polytechnic, Creative Arts Centre
15.11.85            BRADFORD Theatre in the Mill
16.11.85            BRADFORD Theatre in the Mill
21.11.85            LONDON Oval House
22.11.85            LONDON Oval House
23.11.85            LONDON Oval House
26.11.85            TWICKENHAM West End College of Higher Education
27.11.85            BRIGHTON Zap Club
28.11.85            LONDON Battersea Arts Centre
29.11.85            LONDON Battersea Arts Centre
30.11.85            LONDON Battersea Arts Centre
02.12.85            SHEFFEILD Leadmill
12.12.85            NOTTINGHAM Midland Group
13.12.85            NOTTINGHAM Midland Group

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Punishment by Roses (1981)

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A multimedia performance piece

ob, vcl, pno, perc

duration: c. 25 minutes

Description
A performance piece inspired by the life of Japanese writer and activist Yukio Mishima with video by Mike Stubbs

First performed by the New Arts Consort at Chapter Theatre, Cardiff on 20 August 1981
with Steve Watts (oboe), William Bruce (cello), Noriko Kawai (piano), Simon Limbrick (percussion)

Press
“The music – played on percussion, piano, oboe and cello, and sometimes using piped bits of Wagner and others – heightens the action sometimes to a terrifying frenzy…a superb piece of work”
Western Mail, August 1981

“Described as a ‘musical theatre spectacle’ and subtitled A paean for Yukio Mishima this production stunningly evokes the life of the Japanese novelist. The haunting music is written by Charlie Barber for percussion, oboe, cello and piano, and its rich texture underscores the dance-mime of Dafydd Hughes and Glenn Davidson.”
Robbie Dinwoodie, The Scotsman, August 1981

20.08.81        CARDIFF Chapter Theatre
21.08.81        CARDIFF Chapter Theatre
22.08.81        CARDIFF Chapter Theatre
25.08.81        EDINBURGH Festival Fringe
26.08.81        EDINBURGH Festival Fringe
27.08.81        EDINBURGH Festival Fringe
28,08.81        EDINBURGH Festival Fringe
29.08.81        EDINBURGH Festival Fringe

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Friends in Arms (1979)

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A Noh opera based on the Achilles tragedy

Libretto: James Kirkup

Description
Compiled from incidents in Homer’s Iliad, the opera is centred around the death of Patroclus and the wrath of the mourning Achilles. Structured in the style of Japanese Noh theatre, the protagonist portrays both Achilles and the ghost of Patroclus

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Strayed Sequins (1978)

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A music theatre spectacle

actor, ob, tpt, tbn, vln, pno, perc and tape

duration: c. 25 minutes

Programme note:
The title is taken from a book on French writer Jean Genet by Richard N Coe where he discusses Genet’s use of mirror symbolism in the pursuit of the Absolute through descent and abjection: “He who falls far enough and fast enough – even if he starts from an aeroplane and finishes up crashing through the glass roof of a prison – still carries remnants of stars caught up in his clothing, like stray sequins on the tights of a falling trapeze artist.”

First performed by the New Arts Consort at  Sherman Arena Theatre, Cardiff on 14 June 1978
with Caroline Lamb (actor), Caroline Lynch-Blosse (oboe), Huw James (trumpet), John Mills (trombone), Mark Thomas (violin), Kelvin Leslie (piano), Peter Cobb (percussion)

Press
“Barber is a composer with considerable dramatic flair: his quasi-religious dance sequence Strayed Sequins is both powerful and disturbing”
Mark Norris, Classical Music, May 1980

“Barber’s Strayed Sequins takes its title from Genet and is a piece of music theatre for sextet, tape and conductor in three movements…This is a powerfully emotive piece of work, showing the influence of Lindsay Kemp on the dance role of the conductor, choreographed and beautifully danced by Caroline Lamb.”
Philip Needham, Audience magazine, July 1978

14.06.78            CARDIFF Sherman Arena Theatre
30.08.78            CARDIFF Chapter Theatre
02.09.78            BUILTH WELLS Wyeside Arts Centre
11.04.80            CARDIFF Chapter Theatre
12.04.80            CARDIFF Chapter Theatre
16.04.80            HARLECH Theatr Ardudwy
17.04.80            BUILTH WELLS Wyeside Arts Centre

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Live It Up, Mr Hades (1977)

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A theatre cabaret

cl, pno (harmonium), perc

duration: c. 60 minutes

Description
An Absurd circus entertainment based on short stories by Gogol, Kafka and Dostoyevsky.Music by Charlie Barber; Lyrics by Robin Lyons

First performed by Red Light Theatre at Chapter Theatre, Cardiff on 21 September 1977
with Robin Lyons (clarinet), Gavin Hibbs (piano and harmonium), Cliff Prior (percussion)

Press
“The theatre seating is arranged on stage so as to create an intimate cabaret atmosphere…The action takes place in and around a circus ring, which in turn becomes a cage, office, street, café – each change motivated by Charlie Barber’s excellent music, the percussive and emotive quality of which provided the cohesive factor…”
Keith Woods, Audience magazine October 1977

“It is a circus-style entertainment, based on short stories by Kafka, Gogol and Dostoievsky. In other words, it presents a nightmarish world set deep within the most subjective recesses of the imagination…The caricatures and the stories, however, give only part of the picture, the rest being provided by Charlie Barber’s effective musical score…Mr Barber’s strong keyboard work together with lyricist Robin Lyon’s clarinet played a major role in binding the show’s episodes together.”
Tim Brassell, Western Mail, 19 October 1977

21.09.77            CARDIFF Chapter Theatre
22.09.77            CARDIFF Chapter Theatre
23.09.77            CARDIFF Chapter Theatre
24.09.77            CARDIFF Chapter Theatre
18.10.77            CARDIFF Sherman Arena Theatre
19.10.77            CARDIFF Sherman Arena Theatre

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Blood of Orpheus (1977)

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A music theatre cabaret in nine tableaux; music and text by Charlie Barber

2 actor/singers, t sax, tpt, tbn, pno, perc, vln, db

duration: c. 25 minutes

Description
Based on drawings and texts by French poet and film-maker Jean Cocteau, Blood of Orpheus is a dream in which images, snatches of sound, songs and tableaux vivant combine to create a surreal spectacle de nuit.

First performed by Red Light Theatre at the Sherman Arena Theatre, Cardiff on 11 March 1977

11.03.77            CARDIFF Sherman Arena Theatre
08.04.77            CARDIFF Chapter Theatre
09.04.77            CARDIFF Chapter Theatre

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Frank V (1976)

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opera in two acts; libretto by Friedrich Dürrenmatt

picc, tba, vln, pno (+ harm), 2 perc
Saunders (picc, tuba), Rod Dorothy (violin), Charlie Barber (piano and harmonium), Roger Gray (percussion)

duration: 120 minutes

Commissioned by Theatr Yr Ymylon with funds provided by the Welsh Arts Council
First performed at the Sherman Theatre, Cardiff on 18 October 1976

18.10.76            CARDIFF Sherman Theatre
19.10.76            CARDIFF Sherman Theatre
20.10.76            CARDIFF  Sherman Theatre
21.10.76            CARDIFF  Sherman Theatre
22.10.76            CARDIFF  Sherman Theatre
23.10.76            CARDIFF  Sherman Theatre
26.10.76            SWANSEA  Arts Theatre
28.10.76            LAMPETER  UniversityCollege
29.10.76            LLANDRINDOD WELLS  Albert Hall
31.10.76            BANGOR  Theatr Gwynedd
01.11.76            ABERYSTWYTH  Theatr y Werin
02.11.76            ABERYSTWYTH  Theatr y Werin
03.11.76            ABERYSTWYTH  Theatr y Werin
04.11.76            MOLD  Theatr Clwyd
05.11.76            MOLD  Theatr Clwyd
06.11.76            MOLD  Theatr Clwyd

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