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This study documents the musical career and teaching methodology of one of Ireland’s leading choral conductors, Ethna Barror (1915 - ) and explores the factors contributing to her success as a conductor, with particular reference to her choir, The Lindsay Singers. The study is informed by life history methodology, focusing on interviews with Barror which were conducted over an extended period of time. The research also includes interviews with some of Barror’s peers and choir members. This data is supported by documentary material relating to the Lindsay Singers performances, achievements and awards, and the repertoire they performed. The research is also informed by personal documents and correspondence provided by Barror. The study identifies Barror’s success in the field of choral conducting as a product of her musical abilities and her unique personality. It reveals how Barror’s methods and techniques evolved through her experience of conducting choirs, and as a result of her ongoing evaluation of her own performance and rehearsal activity. Barror herself points to factors which she considers have contributed to her success and these include: enthusiasm for her work, discipline, imagination, technique, musicality and flexibility in performance. She refers to rhythm, diction, blend, intonation and interpretation as some of the key elements contributing to the quality of her renowned choral sound. The comments of Barror’s peers and choir members highlight, not only her musical expertise and achievement, but also the personal and leadership qualities she brings to her work. The implications of the research outcomes for choral conductors and choral conductor education are explored, and suggestions made for further research.
McDonagh, N. (2008). Etha Barror: Profile of a Successful Choral Conductor. Masters dissertation. Dublin Institute of Technology. doi:10.21427/D7Z61B