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Byron Shire
December 4, 2022

Composer ‘made the world a little brighter’

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Acclaimed Mullumbimby-based composer and conductor Barrington Pheloung, who died early last Thursday morning aged 65, has been remembered as a much-loved and generous friend and colleague, especially in Byron Shire where he was involved in various church community activities and choirs.

Barry, as he was affectionately known by family and friends, was best known for his theme music for the television series Inspector Morse,  for which he was nominated for Best Original Television Music at the 1992 British Academy Television Awards. 

He also wrote the theme music for the BBC television series Dalziel and Pascoe.

His film work includes the award-winning Hilary and Jackie, based on the life of renowned cellist Jacqueline du Pre, and he also composed music for the film Truly, Madly, Deeply, in which he also appeared (as a ghost). Barry also wrote music for the Sydney Opera House’s 20th birthday celebrations.

Born on 10 May 1954 in Manly, NSW, Barry began playing R&B guitar in nightclubs before discovering classical music through Bach in his late teens.

He moved to London aged 18 to study guitar at the Royal College of Music as well as composition and conducting, spending much of his career in the UK.

After working many years there, Barry moved with his young family in 2003 to a property he bought near Main Arm, where he continued composing as well as contributing to community life for local Catholic churches at Mullumbimby, Brunswick Heads, and Byron Bay.

He enjoyed his new life on the NSW north coast and loved Byron Shire for the beach and surfing lifestyle he grew up with on Sydney’s northern beaches.

Royal College of Music fellow

In March 2016, he returned to London to be awarded by Prince Charles for becoming a Fellow of the Royal College of Music where he was originally a student of guitar under maestros John Williams and Julian Bream.

It was a special occasion, according to his wife Heather, who told The Echo he was ‘very proud’ to be recognised by his fellow colleagues, which for him was ‘the highest accolade’.

Barry, who had a strong voice, attended and helped out at the historic small Catholic churches around the Shire, getting so much joy from his volunteer work and singing, as a tenor, with Mullum’s Amaroti Choir.

For the most recent performance with the choir, Heather said they performed Vivaldi’s Gloria, and ‘nothing made him prouder than having his daughter singing alongside him in the choir for this favourite piece of his’.

Barry was also a cricket tragic and was eagerly looking forward to the current Ashes Test series to once again barrack for the Aussies.

He was a full member of the prestigious MCC (Marylebone Cricket Club) and when in London often watched the Tests at Lords.

Barry’s agent for his music production company DNA Music told www.classicfm.com that company staff were ‘utterly heartbroken’ by his death.

‘Some people just can’t help making a difference in our lives by simply being who they are. They make the world a little brighter, a little warmer, and a lot funnier. Barrington was one of these people,’ the agent said.

Heather said Barry adored his family and was an extremely devoted father to his four children: sons Anthony, Danny, and Timmy and daughter Adel; who will ‘miss him dearly’. 

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  1. My sincere condolences to Barry’s family and friends. I did not know Barry personally, I met him once, locally. At the time, I was a bit down about ‘stuff’. I spoke with him for half an hour, randomly blurting out my woes. He made me realise how pathetic I was being. Thank you Barry for stopping on my train albeit fleetingly.

  2. I met him a few times in Great Dunmow catholic church . I was always happy to see him as he was a loving and warm person. His presence in the choir was remarkable because of his lovely voice.
    Yes, too young to leave. We will miss you.


  3. Endeavour is one of my favorites in the Masterpiece repertoire. His music stood on its own in all he did. I loved this bittersweet article because I learned of what a wonderful, kind person he was. A true loss for everyone.


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