Music Directors


Ruth Brown

Ruth Brown

Ruth has been our Musical Director since 1999 and she sang with the choir before taking up the baton. She studied music at the Royal Academy of Music's Junior Department and at Christ Church, Oxford University and has sung in a number of choirs.

Although she now earns her living in the law, Ruth continues to enjoy a range of musical activities in an amateur capacity, not least conducting Gaudeamus.

Her husband, Lawrence Barker, is also a member of the choir.




David Austin - Our Founder


David Austin - our founder. David Austin moved back from Cornwall to Southend in the mid 1980s having spent his childhood here. He had a classics degree from Oxford University and subsequently taught classics in schools around England. His first love was music and when he returned to Southend he taught music at Alleyn Court School. His enthusiasm was infectious and it was not long before he had founded Gaudeamus.

David Austin was an inspiring conductor and a phenomenal musician. He did not know when to give up and tackled a very wide spectrum of music. On one occasion there was a revolt within the ranks and a particularly ambitious piece was abandoned. David never really understood why.
David died suddenly in Washington in 1999 while conducting Gaudeamus. David was a deeply religious man with strong Christian beliefs. He always saw the best in everyone. He is deeply missed.