Stuart Barr is an experienced creative industries executive and conductor with 20 year international-level music career (incl. 6 years as musical director/producer to Dame Shirley Bassey), and an MBA in Culture, Arts & Media Management at Cambridge University Judge Business School.
With a personal mission to solve strategic problems within the sector, he founded Out To Perform to change the UK’s performing arts narrative from despair to opportunity in the pandemic through expanding the outdoor performance economy where the air is covid-safer. He put together a team to run a national campaign fronted by Julian Lloyd Webber, Aled Jones, Lesley Garrett and the Rt Rev Rowan Williams, to Save Carol Singing, which successfully changed government policy, enabling an estimated 100k people to sing carols outdoors in December. Other DCMS lobbying campaigns include the prioritisation of outdoor theatres/venues in the roadmap, and regulatory easements around Temporary Event Notices to encourage arts entrepreneurialism.
His other pandemic ventures include co-founding Parcel.Love to allow people to send delicious hand-made treats to loved ones along with photo gift cards – repurposing the event catering company Al Fresco Feasts. He also founded Stockwell Live! to bring live music back into people’s lives through garden concerts, which was the catalyst for Out To Perform.
Stuart is passionate about the synergy of creativity and technology and in 2018 he founded nSpireMe to solve some of the strategic challenges in music education. He raised £0.3m in venture capital from Forward Partners Applied AI fund to create the augmented sheet-music app Let’s Play Violin, and the Practissimo platform that used conservatoire-level music students to help children make their practice more effective, creative and fun via Skype.
As a conductor, he’s worked at the intersection of classical and popular music, with many leading British orchestras. He was musical director to Dame Shirley Bassey from 2009-2016, and conducted and produced her final album for Sony RCA, and performed at live and televised events worldwide from the Oscars, the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee to Carnegie Hall.
His daughter Izzy and Stuart came second on Channel 4’s Legomasters 2018, including a master build entitled “Change The World” displayed in the Design Museum.
Scroll down for some of his career highlights
Stuart has contributed to many radio and TV programmes on music and voice across the BBC and Channel 4. Click below to hear his BBC Radio 4 documentary on the extraordinary life and music of Angela Morley (a.k.a Wally Stott). He was on-screen mentor for C4’s landmark series Hidden Talent: finding objective ways to root out latent singing talent.
The story of how a hand injury led to his retiring from playing piano in public to becoming an EdTech entrepreneur is available in this podcast .
At the other end of the production process, his daughter Izzy and he were finalists in Legomasters 2018, building extraordinary Lego models, including their master build “Change the World”, which was displayed in the Design Museum.
During the pandemic, Stuart founded 3 time-limited organisations: Out To Perform which successfully lobbied government to Save Carol Singing and ran other campaigns to expand outdoor performance opportunities, Parcel.Love to repurpose event catering company Al Fresco Feasts into e-commerce, and Stockwell Live to mount garden concerts in the local community.
Stuart was Chairman of the London Youth Choir from 2016-2018, nurturing it through its transition from start-up to a flagship youth project for the capital. Championing both excellence and diversity, it brings together over 250 young singers aged 7-21 from across London in a pyramid of five choirs, and helps thousands more each year in educational projects across London. To build corporate governance and team-working culture, Stuart recruited a high-calibre board and Executive Director, and oversaw extensive organisational change and fundraising expansion.
He was President (Exec Chair) of the British Voice Association 2009-2010, which brought together the country’s leading singing teachers, voice researchers and medics to champion the latest voice research.
He founded Roar of the Crowd Ltd: designing corporate singing workshops for blue-chip clients from McKinsey, BT, EE, EY, Interserve, to the London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games. He recruited a team of facilitators to deliver workshops for over 10,000 participants over 5 years.
He has produced or curated many musical events, from albums through to St George’s Day concerts in Trafalgar Square.
Stuart has a passion for bringing together leading stakeholders in the Creative Industries. At Judge Business School, he recently chaired a round table with the then Digital Minister, Matt Hancock; and interviewed the CEO of IMDb, Col Needham.
Stuart has conducted diverse artistes from Dame Shirley Bassey, Alfie Boe, Andrea Bocelli, Paloma Faith, Elton John to Sting. From 2009 to 2016, he was Dame Shirley Bassey’s musical director and conducted her worldwide from the Oscars, Carnegie Hall, the Royal Albert Hall, the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee at Buckingham Palace, Wales Millennium Stadium, the Cannes Film Festival to the Monte Carlo Opera House. TV performances included Strictly Come Dancing, Graham Norton Show and the Royal Variety Show.
As well as collaborating with many major British orchestras on these projects, he has also guest conducted the BBC Concert Orchestra and Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in concerts of classic film and stage music.
He also conducted and co-produced Shirley Bassey’s final album, Hello Like Before. Watch him tell the story of recording it with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra at Abbey Road for RCA:
Stockwell Live! Garden concerts
We’re passionate about bringing live music back into our lives, and also mindful that so many performers have been without any income for so long. So we created Stockwell Live!to bring outdoors world-class live music to our neighbourhood in a garden setting.
Thursday 29th October 2020, 7pm. On Wing & Water: Eleanor Turner on Harp
Experience the harp as you’ve never heard it before as Eleanor Turner takes us from Classical to Indian raga at this concert in SW9
Let Eleanor take you on journey across the gamut of the harp on the theme of the outdoors. From the baroque finery of Giovanni Battista Pescetti, the Peer Gynt Suite by Grieg, Birds in Winter by Michael Mauldin, Debussy’s En Bateau, several of her own compositions, Bhairav raga (Morning Mood) to Sunset by Nitin Sawhney.
You’ve got 3 options:
See her live and up close in our new Courtyard venue in the heart of SW9 for £30, including 2 glasses of wine & 2-course hot bowl food served at your seat by event catering partners Al Fresco Feasts. Book here on Eventbrite
Watch the live stream of the performance and artiste interviews (for upto 72 hour afterwards) for just £6 here on Eventbrite.
Live stream as above, but with a unique hospitality box of Prosecco/Pimms/Elderflower and delicious hand-made treats sent from Parcel.Love for £20 (£35 for two) plus delivery here on Parcel.Love.
Eleanor Turner is a versatile electro acoustic harpist who performs internationally as soloist, with her band Ranagrí and in collaboration with world-class artists such as Jonny Greenwood (Radiohead bassist and composer) and Mendi Singh, tabla maestro, in her Tāla Tarang duo. Her concerto debut at age 15 was in the Queen Elizabeth Hall, broadcast live on Classic FM.
“Magical Fingers” Metro
“Scrupulous attention to the harp’s rhythmic and dynamic possibilities” The Times
“Agile and assured performance from Eleanor, who shines throughout the recording” The Gramophone
Eleanor is at her most creative and daring in cross-discipline collaborations, whether with hip hop dancer Lizzie Gough or in the field of electronic gesture-controlled music created in collaboration with Balandino Di Donato (who performed her British Sign Language piece The Wood and The Water for harp and sound spatialisation). She won First Prize in the European Harp Competition, a Wingate Scholarship and awards from the Tillett Trust, Help Musicians and the PRS Foundation for New Music. She has performed solo recitals and with chamber ensembles at the Wigmore Hall, Berlin Philharmonie, Amsterdam’s Muziekgebouw and concertos in London, Bristol, Sydney and New Orleans.
Throughout lockdown, Eleanor has focused on composing and producing, recently completing a commission for ‘A Sound A Place’ by Tubipora duo in Turin. She has also recorded her own solo pieces at home and with Voces8 and Cassell the Beatmaker, duetted via video with UK singer Ruti and Italian harpist Adriano Sangineto, and has created a new musical work ‘And that’s why we are here today’ in collaboration with bassist Wayne Bennett, for Sound and Music’s ‘Interpreting Isolation’ award.
Wednesday 23rd September, 7.15pm. Jazz duo L’Estranges in the Night…
Making the most of the magical garden atmosphere, virtuosic vocalist Joanna Forbes-L’Estrange & jazz multi-instrumentalist husband Alexander bring you L’Estranges in the Night. Come on a journey of jazz standards from the Great American Songbook as you’ve never heard it before. George Gershwin, Duke Ellington, Cole Porter and more, sprinkled with Swingle-style Bach and some of their own songs, from these two towering musical giants.
“Beautifully performed, produced, interpreted and arranged and (unsurprisingly) utterly musical at every turn. Joanna’s voice is stunning.”Howard Goodall CBE
“This is just gorgeous. Unbelievably luscious.”Eric Whitacre, composer
Internationally-acclaimed husband-and-wife duo Joanna Forbes L’Estrange (vocalist, formerly with The Swingles) and Alexander L’Estrange (composer and jazz multi- instrumentalist) have been delighting audiences across the globe ever since their debut in 1992 as undergraduates at Oxford University. They launched their album New things to say: songs of L’Estrange and Legrand in Pizza Express Jazz Club in Soho and have also played Ronnie Scott’s, the 606 Club and, in 2019, New York’s Carnegie Hall. Their stylistic versatility knows no bounds as they present an entertaining set which includes jazz standards, Swingles-style Bach, songs from the shows, cabaret numbers and their own original compositions, all delivered with the consummate musicianship synonymous with the L’EstrangeMusic brand.
Saturday 5th September, 7.30pm The Enchanted Cello with Matthew Sharp
Our next concert sees the turn of the extraordinary cellist & singer Matthew Sharp, with a performance that blends iconic classical cello works with spell-binding new arrangements of an eclectic array of other music: collapsing Bach to Jeff Buckley, Wagner to Scott Walker, Purcell to Cole Porter and more.
Saturday 5th September, 4pm Family fun: Hansel & Gretel and other stories
And, with a fun family concert that brings music and storytelling alive in a compelling way, Matthew Sharp performs Hansel & Gretel (and Other Stories). Join ‘extraordinary cellist, singer & actor’ (Telegraph) Matthew Sharp for a feast of fairy-tale where beloved stories, bewitching magic and the once-in-a-lifetime chance to help our heroes and heroines along the way come together in one unforgettable, interactive show. Aimed at ages 3-11.
Thursday 27th August, 7.30pm. Broadway Baby: A Feast of Musicals with Alex Young
To kick-off the season, Leading West End actressAlex Youngkicks off our series singing songs that have inspired her career. From Sondheim to Porter and Rodgers & Hammerstein, and from Guys & Dolls to Carousel, supported by West End musical director Jordan Clarke.