Brandon Boyd’s Barbican Rhapsody

MU professor harnesses the powers of the London Symphony Orchestra and a chorus of London voices.

Brandon Boyd sitting at piano
Photo by Abbie Lankitus

Published on Show Me Mizzou April 30, 2024
Story by Randall Roberts, BA ’88
Photo by Abbie Lankitus

Since spring 2020, conductor, composer, pianist and MU professor Brandon Boyd has booked an annual flight to Heathrow Airport. His destination? The illustrious concert hall at London’s Barbican Centre. Once there, Boyd, an associate professor at the School of Music and the Director of Choral Activities, joins forces with the London Symphony Orchestra (LSO) and more than 250 voices drawn from various corners of the London community. 

Seated at the piano and guided by the baton of LSO associate conductor Andre J. Thomas, Boyd performs with this storied ensemble in a program featuring a composition he arranged, one that erupts with a heavenly choir and the full power of the orchestra. The combination roars through the iconic venue.

Talking in his office (which has a baby grand piano in it) at the Jeanne and Rex Sinquefield Music Center, Boyd describes, in a reverent tone, the experience of being on stage with what he calls “the best of the best” performing his work. Music born as the seed of an idea blossoms at a packed Barbican.

The LSO and choirs have performed three of his arrangements: “Until I Reach My Home,” “Sign Me Up” and “I’ll Fly Away.” Currently, Boyd is collaborating on the orchestration for his latest piece. Scheduled to premiere at the Barbican on November 5, it’s titled “Come and Go with Me.” Boyd describes it as a Black spiritual rooted in the gospel tradition. He arranged it a few months ago for Tom Trenney as part of a collaboration between First-Plymouth Church and Nebraska Wesleyan University.

Boyd calls the notion of his songs coming to life at the 2,000-seat Barbican a singular thrill, describing it as “a gift from God that I can’t help but to cherish. It’s quite amazing to write or arrange something that starts as an idea and see how it transforms instrumentalists, singers and audiences, taking them to a place I never imagined.” 

Stressing that he’s not trying to sound conceited, Boyd describes witnessing the transformative power of music in such a venue as “one of the biggest honors for me, to see the joy that people have from the music birthed by my ancestors — it’s a gift.”

To read more articles like this, become a Mizzou Alumni Association member and receive MIZZOU magazine in your mailbox. Click here to join.

Subscribe to

Show Me Mizzou

Stay up-to-date with the latest news by subscribing to the Show Me Mizzou newsletter.