Music plays an integral part in the life of St Michael's Church.
We are outward looking and welcome people from the Barnes community and beyond to engage with our active and expanding music programme.

Adult Choir

We maintain an adult choir formed of around 16 volunteers from the local community who enhance our main Sunday worship through their singing. Many of our members are working professionals who kindly give their time voluntarily. A number also sing with other choirs and some are ex-university choral scholars.

We explore music from the 16th to 21st century and take pride in providing a full complement of SATB parts. We do have some spaces left for new members, who would be made most welcome. 

The Adult Choir rehearses every Wednesday during term time from 8.15-9.30pm and on Sunday’s from 9.15-10.00am before the morning service. Attendance at every rehearsal and service is not compulsory but rather encouraged. You are welcome to come and try us out. Either email Laurence, our Director of Music, or just come along to one of our Wednesday rehearsals.

Choral Scholars

We welcome choral scholars from a number of local schools who sing with our adult choir to further enhance the music. Our four Choral Scholars range from ages 16-19 and normally stay with us for one to two years.

We encourage applications from those looking to take a university choral scholarship who would benefit from the training we offer here. Choral Scholars are offered opportunities for solo performance and extra training. For more information about the choral scholarships, please click this link.

Choral Scholars receive a stipend of up to £1,000 per year. 

For those less experienced, we offer a choral exhibition programme to help provide experience of choral singing to those interested in taking up a scholarship later on, offering up to £500 for the year.

Laurence (Director of Music) is delighted to hear from anyone interested at any time. Please feel free to email him here.

Organ Scholarship

Our Organ Scholarship is designed to help and train any aspiring organist who is looking to be involved with choral and organ music, and who may be looking for an organ scholarship position at a university. 
The organ scholar receives an hour and a half of one-on-one tuition with the Director of Music every week to focus on accompanying and conducting, providing the skills that allows an organist to feel confident in front of a choir, and when accompanying at the console
The scholar will accompany the choir almost every week in some capacity. For those beginning their journey on organ, we gradate the work to ensure that we are building confidence in playing rather than expecting too much too soon. 

The organ scholar receives an honorarium of up to £1500 for their efforts. For more information about the organ scholarships, please click this link.

Children’s Choir

Barnes Children’s Choir was launched last year for children aged 6-13. It is led by our Director of Music, Laurence Williams who has a wealth of experience running children’s choirs, and assisted by experienced teacher and musician Frederick Appleby. The choir rehearses on Wednesdays from 3.30-4.15pm in church and learns a range of music from traditional to modern, serious to fun, spiritual to secular. No experience or musical skills needed and no audition – only enthusiasm needed! Safeguarding procedures are in place. Do come and join in. – simply sign up and come along. There is no charge, as we do not want anyone to be prevented from taking part, but we invite a donation each term from those who are able to contribute. To sign up, express an interest or ask any questions, please email Laurence.

Director of Music

Laurence Williams has been the Director of Music at St Michael’s since February 2022. Laurence is a professional musician in London. He is an international bass-baritone soloist, choir director, organist, accompanist and teacher. He brings a wealth of experience to the post. 

He is passionate about introducing people to classical music, running East Grinstead Choral Society and Children’s Voices of Enfield where he has rapidly grown the number of members at both choirs. He also set up Dowland Youth Works, a group that aims to introduce teenagers to the rich music and poetry of John Dowland and his contemporaries. 

As a soloist, he has performed as far afield as Australia and he regularly sings for concerts around the UK.

Laurence sings with some of the UK’s top choirs, including the Monteverdi Choir and Polyphony. He studied conducting under Stephen Layton, Tim Redman and Mark Forkgen and was appointed as a choir boy at Westminster Abbey under our organist emeritus Martin Neary.


St Michael’s has a versatile two manual instrument that regularly provides music for our Sunday worship. The original instrument built in 1899 by Bishop is a typical example of the standard of Victorian organ building from that period. 

In 1976, Percy Daniel and Co. completely rebuilt the instrument, following the style of the time which was to attempt forcing the organ into producing a more continental style of sound.

A small, yet sensitive, refurbishment of the instrument was carried out in 2016 by B. C. Shepherd and Sons. They have much improved the instrument and with the addition of some new stops and aids at the console, the organ now is as at home with Baroque music as it is with accompanying the choir and leading the congregation.

A link to the specification can be found here. 

We welcome enquiries from anyone looking to practice the instrument. We particularly encourage enquiries from local schools where the opportunity to practice an organ is unavailable.

Organist Emeritus 

Our Organist Emeritus, Martin Neary, was the Director of Music at St Michael’s for nine years (2013-2022). Martin had a prestigious career as a Director of Music and Organist in some of England’s top musical institutions, including Winchester Cathedral and Westminster Abbey where he famously directed the music for the funeral of Princess Diana.

Martin gladly took up the title of Organist Emeritus on his retirement from Barnes and we are delighted to have such a prestigious person attached to our music department

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