Paul Alan Barker, Composer

Choral Music

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Listen to Music
You are listening to "The Lady of the Ferry Inn"
from "The Sirens and tthe Sea".
See below:

Songs for St. Vitus
Homage to Shostakovitch
The Sirens and The Sea
Four Floating Songs
Three Negro Sprituals

Songs for St Vitus
3 songs for performance by SATB, commissioned by COMA Singers and Sarah Leonard, November 2008.
St Vitus lived almost two thousand years ago. He has become the patron saint of dancers and actors. His feastday is June 15. According to some sources, in the 11th and 12th centuries, impromptu ecstatic mass dances would occur in church yards and continue until the singers dropped from exhaustion. These and similar events have become associated with him. There may be some connection between these occurences and the development of the Swirling Dervishes of Sufism.
These three pieces for ensemble or chorus involve the singers who move; clapping and stamping in the first, kissing noisily in the second. In common with much of my recent vocal music, they are settings of invented sounds, rather than text. The third song deconstructs and reinvents the phrase Viti Chorea Sancti, which is the Latin term for St Vitus’ Dance, used today to refer to certain medical conditions.
Video of Song 2: The Kissing Song

STVitus/V4.jpg STVitus/V3.jpg STVitus/V2.jpg STVitus/V1.jpg

Homage to Shostakovitch
For SATB & String Quartet, commissioned by Phillip Parr for the Swaledale Festival, 10th June 2006
for the Pro Nobis Singers & Navarra String Quartet.
This short work reflects some of the intense musical experiences that have marked me by his music.
It is suffused by a slow, halting waltz, and references to the sound of the composer's name.
It lasts about five minutes before drifting up into silence.
Ca. 5 minutes


The Sirens and the Sea
a dramatic cantata for 30 female voices;
commissioned by Pam Cook and Cantamus Girls Choir with funds from East Midlands Arts;
premiered Nottingham Festival, July 1992;
staged by Caroline Sharman;
ca 15 mins.
The piece had colour humour and power Nottingham Evening Post 29.6.92
This work is in two version: SSA & SATB

The Lady of the Ferry Inn

1) Dialogue One (James Joyce & Homer):
The ever-present Sea is interrupted and spellbound by the Sirens
2) Episode 1:The Tree, the Serpent and Eve address Adam (Milton)
The Tree, The Serpent and Eve
3) Dialogue Two (James Joyce & Homer)
The Sea Plays alongside the Sirens
4) Episode 2: The Lady of the Ferry Inn
The Lady and her Customers
Who am I? I am a lady faithful to the ways
of the Ferry Inn.
I run a tavern and cheat no one.
The moon in its robes of snow clouds
welcomes you
and your silver coins.
Before the men who drink here, I offer
a perfect world.
I want nothing more.
I walk among them, faultlessly,
sing intimate songs
and pour the mead.
Gwerfyl Mechain; Welsh, 1480
5) Dialogue Two (James Joyce & Homer)
The SIrens Enchant the Sea
6) The SIren's Last Wish (Shakespeare)
The Siren's Seduce the Audience
Four Floating Songs (1988)
16 voice (4S 4A 4T 4B) setting of 4 ancient Japanese poems;
Drawn from material from the opera, The PIllow Song;
ca 15 mins


Three Negro Spirituals
arranged for SATB