Academy of Ancient Music, The Choir of the AAM & Richard Egarr

Biography Academy of Ancient Music, The Choir of the AAM & Richard Egarr

The Academy of Ancient Music
was founded in 1973 by Christopher Hogwood, under whose leadership the orchestra developed a global reputation for inspirational music-making which continues today.

The AAM performs baroque and classical music on period instruments, taking inspiration from the distinctive sound-worlds composers of those ages might have known. Founded on a combination of academic research and superb musicianship, the AAM’s performances have been acclaimed for their vitality and intimacy.

Over the past forty years the AAM has performed live to music lovers on six continents, and millions more have heard the orchestra through its catalogue of over 300 CDs: Brit- and Grammy-Award-winning recordings of Handel operas; the first-ever recording on period instruments of the complete Mozart symphonies; pioneering accounts of the Beethoven piano concertos and Haydn symphonies; and discs which champion neglected composers.

In 2006, Richard Egarr succeeded Christopher Hogwood as Music Director. Egarr has led the orchestra on tours throughout Europe, the USA and the Far East, and in 2007 he founded the Choir of the AAM. Recent recordings include a complete cycle of Handel’s Opp.1-7 instrumental music, released to celebrate the 250th anniversary of the composer’s death, and the world-premiere recording of music by seventeenth-century English composer Christopher Gibbons. In June 2012 the AAM was invited to perform at the Queen’s Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant; and in summer 2013 the AAM was Resident Ensemble at London’s National Gallery, accompanying the exhibition “Vermeer and Music”.

The AAM’s artistic excellence has long been fostered by a range of guest artists. Pianist Robert Levin and singers Dame Emma Kirkby, Dame Joan Sutherland and Cecilia Bartoli were among those performing regularly with the AAM in the early days, and a range of collaborations continue to inspire the group with new ideas and fresh approaches. In 2009, AAM’s long-standing relationship with the Choir of King’s College, Cambridge produced the world’s first live classical cinecast, with Handel’s Messiah streamed live into hundreds of cinemas across the globe. Ongoing work with the likes of mezzo-soprano Sarah Connolly, counter-tenor Andreas Scholl, tenor James Gilchrist and violinist Alina Ibragimova lies at the heart of AAM’s present-day artistic success.

From September 2013 to August 2014 the AAM marked its 40th anniversary with a celebratory season of concerts spanning the full breadth of the orchestra’s repertoire, from Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo (1607) to Beethoven’s Symphony No.9 (1824). Additionally, AAM Records, the orchestra’s own record label, was launched in October 2013, with releases to date including Birth of the symphony: Handel to Haydn, JS Bach’s St John Passion and AAM at 40, a limited edition two-disc compilation of the very best of AAM’s 40 years of recording. Forthcoming releases include JS Bach’s St Matthew Passion and the Orchestral Suites.

In the 2014-15 season, AAM continues its commitment to reaching the widest possible audience with series in London and Cambridge, extensive UK touring, and foreign appearances in Belgium, Canada, the United States, Germany, Spain, Russia, and the Netherlands.

The AAM is Associate Ensemble at London’s Barbican Centre and Orchestra-in-Residence at the University of Cambridge.

Richard Egarr
brings a joyful sense of adventure and a keen, enquiring mind to all his music-making - whether conducting, directing from the keyboard, giving recitals, playing chamber-music, and indeed talking about music at every opportunity. Music Director of the Academy of Ancient Music since 2006, Egarr was recently appointed Principal Guest Conductor of the Residentie Orkest in The Hague from 2019, and was Associate Artist of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra 2011-2017. He has conducted major symphonic orchestras such as London Symphony, Royal Concertgebouw and Philadelphia Orchestra, has frequently guested with leading baroque ensembles such as Philharmonia Baroque and the Handel and Haydn Society, and regularly gives solo harpsichord recitals at the Wigmore Hall, Carnegie Hall and elsewhere.

In 18/19 Egarr conducts Bruckner’s “Nullte” and Beethoven 5 with the Residentie Orkest, Schumann 2 with the Utah Symphony, and Schubert 9 with the Handel and Haydn Society. He makes his debut with the Cincinatti Symphony in Bach and Vivaldi, and returns to the Seattle Symphony and St Paul Chamber for Handel and Purcell, also the Kioi Hall Chamber Orchestra Tokyo for Bach and Vivaldi, the Scottish Chamber for more Handel and the Seoul Philharmonic for Mozart. He plays solo harpsichord recitals at the Wigmore Hall, Tokyo Spring Festival and at the Madrid Auditori. Season highlights with the Academy of Ancient Music at the Barbican Centre include Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas (staged) and Handel’s rarely-performed Brockes Passion, also his first collaboration with the Grange Festival (staged Nozze di Figaro).

Early in his tenure with AAM Egarr established the Choir of the AAM; operas and particularly Handel’s oratorios lie at the heart of his repertoire. He made his Glyndebourne debut in 2007 conducting a staged version of St Matthew Passion. He has directed Mozart’s La Finta Giardinera, a Monteverdi cycle and Purcell operas with the Academy of Ancient Music at the Barbican, and staged productions of La clemenza di Tito, Le nozze di Figaro and Rossini’s Il Signor Bruschino at the Netherlands Opera Academy. He has a long-standing teaching position at the Amsterdam Conservatoire and is Visiting Professor at the Juilliard school.

Egarr’s extensive discography on Harmonia Mundi includes solo keyboard works by JS Bach, Handel, Mozart and Louis Couperin. His long list of recordings with the Academy of Ancient Music includes seven Handel discs (2007 Gramophone Award, 2009 MIDEM and Edison awards), and JS Bach's St John and Matthew Passions on the AAM's own label. His latest recital disc of Byrd and Sweelinck appeared in May 2018 on Linn Records, who have also released his performance of Gilbert and Sullivan’s HMS Pinafore live from the 2015 Edinburgh International Festival.

Egarr trained as a choirboy at York Minster, at Chetham’s School of Music in Manchester, and as organ scholar at Clare College Cambridge. His studies with Gustav and Marie Leonhardt further inspired his work in the field of historical performance.

Richard Egarr is represented by Intermusica.

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