John Webber attended St. Olave's Grammar School and then studied at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London, specialising in organ with Harold Dexter and Nicholas Danby.
John was born in 1948 and was a member of the Grove Singers from 1970 and conductor from 1977-82. This Choir continues, but, in 1995, a branch of it later developed into the Elm Singers and many longstanding members remain.
John has been married to Maggie since 1982.
He was appointed organist of St. Swithun's Church, Hither Green at the age of 15 and passed the ARCO at 18 and FRCO at 21. In 1982 he passed the Durham B Mus (Hons) and shortly afterwards the Choir Training Diploma (CHM) and Archbishops' Diplomas in Church Music (ADCM) of the Royal College of Organists / Royal School of Church Music.
John has also held appointments at St. George's, Beckenham, Chelsea Old Church and St. George's, Bickley. He is currently the Director of Music at St. John's, East Dulwich. He teaches organ, piano and singing, mainly from home. He directs Beckenham Junior Choir, which he founded in 1993, and its sister group, Beckenham Youth Voices.
He is a past Chair of the Southwark and South London Society of Organists.
John has no interest in sport whatsoever, but is an avid listener to "The Archers" on Radio 4 and is an enthusiast for red London buses.
John is a keen supporter of women in the priesthood if the Church of England and is a member of various groups which help to promote both this and also women in episcopacy.
The Choir's repertoire includes a number of John's own compositions. Among them are two delightful Christmas carols, which in John's own words "were written for no particular reason on December 27th, 1982". They are "I sing of a maiden" and "Cradle Song".
"I sing of a maiden" is set to a well-known fifteenth century text and arranged for SATB with a little divisi. It was first performed by the Elm Singers in 2008.
"Cradle Song"uses sixteenth century words again often used in the past by other composers: "O my dear heart, young Jesus sweet". This carol has a rather Delius-sounding set of harmonies and was first performed by the Elm Singers in 2007.
"Six Songs for Tenor" were written for the Durham B. Mus degree in 1982. They were performed at a concert of the Grove Singers in 1982 or 1983 at the Church of the Good Shepherd, Lee, by Colin Tamblyn. Colin died tragically a few years later. The songs were sung again, as if written for him personally(!), by our very own tenor, Stephen Locke, at concerts in both 2007 and 2008.
The lyrics of the six songs are taken from the following poems:
- Dream Pedlary by Thomas Lovell Beddoes (1803-1849)
- At the Mid Hour of Night by Thomas Moore (1779-1852)
- When we two parted by George Gordon Byron, Lord Byron (1788-1824)
- To one in Paradise by Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849)
- Love is a sickness by Samuel Daniel (1562-1620)
- Everyone Sang by Siegfried Sassoon (1886-1967)
John has also composed other music, especially settings of religious texts for liturgical use.