President: Steven Isserlis


Barnes Music Society is proud to have as its President the world-famous cellist Steven Isserlis.  Born in Barnes, he comes from a very musical family.  His two sisters are professional string players (Annette a violist and Rachel a violinist), and his grandfather Julian Isserlis was a composer.


 The Society in its current form was created through a merger in 1985 of Castelnau Concerts with the Barnes Music Club, although its roots go back to the 1950s.  Our outgoing President, the late Stephen Dodgson, had been Chairman of Castlenau Concerts, whilst the new President's late father, George Isserlis, had been Chairman of the Barnes Music Club.  Both played a major role in maintaining the Society's high standards.


Barnes Music Society aims to foster appreciation of music, promoting first-class concerts, and encouraging other musical activities especially involving young musicians.  These last are achieved by the Saturday family concerts for children and by the annual concert each May given by young musicians.


Please email all enquiries about the Society and Membership to



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Barnes Music Society gratefully acknowledges financial assistance during the past year from the Barnes Workhouse Fund, the Barnes Community Association, the John S Cohen Foundation, the Holst Foundation and Chestertons



Monday 20 November, 2017  7:30 pm

OSO Arts Centre, 49 Station Road, Barnes, SW13 0LF



Alicia's Gift: The Concert of the Novel



Jessica Duchen - Author & Narrator



Viv McLean - piano


A narrated concert based on Jessica Duchen's novel Alicia's Gift. Repertoire includes works by Chopin, Debussy, Granados, Ravel and Gershwin played by the award-winning pianist Viv McLean.

What does a family do to a talented child? What does the presence of a prodigy do to the family? The topics of this acclaimed novel hold perennial fascination for countless music-lovers. Duchen's story follows the piano prodigy Alicia Bradley and her embattled parents from the revelation of her talent, aged three, through to her adulthood and her participation in the Leeds International Piano Competition. The process leaves none of them unchanged and ultimately forces Alicia to face harsh truths about herself, her guidance and her gift.



Tickets now available for
Alicia's Gift




Jessica Duchen was born in London, where her parents settled after leaving South Africa. She regrets that she can't remember her encounter with JRR Tolkein in Oxford at the age of six, which has become a family legend. She first tried to write a novel when she was 12 and her efforts soon found their way into the hands of a distinguished author and a literary agent, who both provided valuable encouragement. After studying music at Cambridge and piano with Joan Havill at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, she worked as an editor in music publishing and magazines for ten years, then went freelance to concentrate on writing.

Her journalism has appeared in The Independent, The Guardian and The Sunday Times, as well as BBC Music Magazine, Opera News and numerous other journals.

 She has given pre-concert talks at Symphony Hall, Birmingham, the Wigmore and the Royal Festival Hall and served on the juries of the Royal Philharmonic Society Awards and the BBC Music Magazine CD Awards. Jessica Duchen's Classical Music Blog has frequently been ranked among the world's top blogs of its kind.

Her latest novel, Ghost Variations, is inspired by the true story of how the Schumann Violin Concerto was rediscovered in the 1930s. Others focus on the tensions and cross-currents between family generations, ranging from a painful exploration of the effects of anorexia (Rites of Spring) and the rearing of a child prodigy (Alicia's Gift) to the long-term effects of displacement and cultural clashes (Hungarian Dances and Songs of Triumphant Love). Music is a recurring theme and in 2009 the celebrated violin and piano duo Philippe Graffin and Claire Desert recorded a CD inspired by Hungarian Dances, designed as a companion to the novel (on Onyx Classics).

Jessica's first play, A Walk Through the End of Time, a one-act drama introducing Messiaen's Quartet for the End of Time, was commissioned by her frequent collaborator, violinist Philippe Graffin, the artistic director of the Consonances Festival, Saint-Nazaire, in 2007 and won her the Medal of the Town of Saint-Nazaire. She and the great tenor Robert Tear gave the play's UK premiere in 2008. Further performances have included the Orange Tree Theatre, Richmond, in the International Wimbledon Music Festival and the Ryedale Festival in Yorkshire, and among its actors have been Dame Harriet Walter, Janet Suzman, Michael Pennington, Guy Paul and Henry Goodman. Sins of the Fathers, Jessica's first full-length play, is a fantastical comedy about Wagner, Liszt and Cosima, created for the International Wimbledon Music Festival in 2013, Wagner's bicentenary year, and presented at the Orange Tree Theatre, Richmond, starring John Sessions, Jeremy Child and Sarah Gabriel.

Jessica frequently appears as narrator in concert versions of her novels Ghost Variations, Hungarian Dances (both with violin and piano) and Alicia's Gift (with solo piano). Hungarian Dances was devised for the Fiddles on Fire Festival at The Sage, Gateshead and King's Place, London, in 2009. Alicia's Gift, suggested by the pianist Viv McLean, launched in November 2013 and has been presented in venues including the Wigmore Hall, the Buxton Festival, the Kensington & Chelsea Music Society and the Chopin Society, London.

Jessica's first books were biographies of the composers Erich Wolfgang Korngold and Gabriel Faure. She wrote the text for Inside London, Dorothy Bohm's photographic portrait of the city, and has published several short stories, including Too Much Mozart, commissioned by Graffin for the booklet of his CD with Nobuko Imai of the Mozart Sinfonia Concertante. She lives in London with her husband and cat, and enjoys theatre, playing the piano, cookery, jogging and plundering second-hand bookshops for out-of-print gems.


Winner of the First Prize at the 2002 Maria Canals International Piano Competition in Barcelona, Viv McLean has performed at all the major venues in the UK as well as throughout Europe, Japan, Australia and the USA. Viv's concerto work includes appearances with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Philharmonia Orchestra, London Philharmonic Orchestra, Halle Orchestra, English Chamber Orchestra, BBC Concert Orchestra, Sinfonia Viva, Orchestra of the Swan, London Concert Orchestra, Scottish Concert Orchestra, Northern Chamber Orchestra and the National Symphony Orchestra

 Recent concerto highlights include Mozart K. 467 with the English Chamber Orchestra at the Royal Festival Hall, Grieg with the London Philharmonic Orchestra at the Barbican, a tour of the USA with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra performing Gershwin, Rachmaninov's 3rd Concerto with the RPO in Cambridge, Gershwin, Bernstein, de Falla and Ravel with the Halle at the Bridgewater Hall, The Sage Gateshead and other venues in the North of England, and Beethoven's 5th Concerto with the Philharmonia at the Royal Festival Hall. Future plans include a tour in 2018 with the London Concert Orchestra where Viv will be playing Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue in venues including the Royal Festival Hall, Symphony Hall, Bridgewater Hall, St David's Hall Cardiff, Philharmonic Hall Liverpool and Leicester's De Montfort Hall.

Viv has performed chamber music with leading groups such as the Adderbury Ensemble, Ysaye String Quartet, the Sacconi String Quartet, Callino String Quartet, Ensemble 360, the Galliard Wind Ensemble, the Bristol Ensemble and the Leopold String Trio and has collaborated with musicians such as Natalie Clein, Marianne Thorsen, Daniel Hope, Lawrence Power, Matthew Sharp, Kate Gould, Guy Johnston, Alena Lugovkina, Sarah Gabriel, Richard Dubugnon, David Le Page, Wayne Marshall, Christopher Warren-Green, Owain Arwell Hughes, Philip Hesketh, Christopher George, David Charles Abell, Carl Davis and Marvin Hamlisch.

Viv McLean has performed at festivals including the Cheltenham International Festival, Buxton Festival and Harrogate Festival in the UK, the International Beethoven Festival, the Mecklenburg Festival and the Kultur Kreis Festival in Germany, the Festival International de Musique Classique d'Aigues-Mortes, the Melle Festival and Festival de Saintes in France, the Vinterfestspill i Bergstaden in Norway and the Musik vid Kattegatt Festival in Sweden. Since 2013 he has been pianist-in-residence at the Glossop Music Festival.

Viv studied from an early age with Ruth Nye and after attending Chetham's School of Music he went on to study at the Royal Academy of Music with Hamish Milne. At the Academy he held the Hodgson Fellowship and was made an Associate of the Royal Academy in 2005. He made his Wigmore Hall recital debut through winning the Friends of the Royal Academy Wigmore Award. Whilst studying at the Academy, he was the piano winner at the Royal Overseas-League Music Competition and was selected as one of three winners of the National Federation of Music Societies' Young Artists Competition, leading to various recitals and concerto appearances throughout Great Britain

Viv has recorded regularly for BBC Radio 3 since making his recital debut through the BBC Radio 3 Young Artists Forum scheme and has also recorded for Classic FM, WDR Radio in Germany, Radio France, ABC Radio in Australia, NRK Radio in Norway and for the Sky Arts television channel. His commercial releases include recordings for such labels as Sony Classical Japan, Naxos, Nimbus, RPO Records and ICSM Records.