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Helen Wallace joins Barbican as new Head of Music 

The Barbican is delighted to announce that Helen Wallace has been appointed the new Head of Music at the Barbican. Helen will take up her new role in February 2024.   

Helen joins the Barbican from Kings Place, where she has been Executive & Artistic Director, leading an innovative programme of music and spoken word for the past six years.  

Helen began her career as a music journalist and editor, editing BBC Music Magazine and The Strad and writing the history of Boosey & Hawkes, the publishing story, alongside being a critic on The Times and a commentator on BBC Radios 3 & 4. She joined Kings Place in an advisory role in 2009, becoming Director of Programme in 2018. Cello Unwrapped (2017) was her first major series; she became Artistic Director in 2019 and Executive & Artistic Director in 2020. Helen pioneered an imaginative and inclusive programme at the venue, brokering diverse new relationships with artistic partners and inviting curators from underrepresented backgrounds to contribute to their main series.  

She was awarded Concert Hall Manager of the Year in 2020 by the Association of British Orchestras and her pioneering 2019 Venus Unwrapped, focused on female composers over ten centuries, won an RPS Award for festival or series. Helen has instigated a long-term partnership with d&b audiotechnik to install their 360 Soundscape system at Kings Place, leading to Sound Unwrapped, a year-long series exploring spatialised performances and developing new commissions into the future.  

In her new role as Head of Music at the Barbican, Helen will oversee the Centre’s exciting and eclectic programme of Classical and Contemporary Music, including working closely with Barbican’s resident orchestra: the London Symphony Orchestra, and associate orchestras: BBC Symphony Orchestra, Britten Sinfonia and Academy of Ancient Music as well as Associate Producer: Serious. 

Of her new role at the Barbican, Helen Wallace, said: ‘I’m excited to join the Barbican’s legendary Music team and to work with its incredible family of partners across the Centre, from outstanding orchestras such as the LSO and BBC Symphony Orchestra to its dance Associates Boy Blue. The Barbican is a place of soaring, international ambition and progressive thinking. It has given me, as an audience member, some of the most transformative music experiences of my life. I want to unlock those experiences for a wider audience across the whole of the Barbican’s venues. I’m passionate about breaking down hierarchies and giving space to a multiplicity of musical voices, including the audience’s own. And I relish the opportunity to work with the students of the Guildhall School of Music & Drama, who are reinventing what it is to be a musician today. Having engaged with a huge range of performers, ensembles, community partners and grass-roots organisations at Kings Place, I feel the time is right to work on a bigger stage. For me, creating the right conditions for people to discover music, and find its meaning and relevance to them, is a key mission: music has magical power.’  

Claire Spencer, Barbican CEO, said: ‘Throughout her career, Helen has demonstrated immense creativity, passion and love for music, not to mention a deep knowledge and dedication to presenting both outstanding performances as well as platforming emerging and underrepresented artists. At an exciting moment in the Barbican's story, Helen's track record of reaching new audiences with pioneering programming make her a perfect fit to lead our equally pioneering Music team. We're thrilled that she's up for the challenge and can’t wait for her to start.’  

This announcement follows the Barbican’s recent launch of its 2024 spring classical music season. The season announcement can viewed here.