BiographyThe Academy of Ancient Music is one of the biggest names in classical music. Concerts across six continents and over 250 recordings since its formation by Christopher Hogwood in 1973 demonstrate the AAM’s pre-eminence in music of the baroque and classical periods.
The AAM specialises in performing on instruments and in styles dating from the time when the music was composed. Under Hogwood’s leadership it established itself as a leading authority on how music was originally performed. This pioneering work had a transformative impact on the world of classical music, and lies at the heart of the AAM’s reputation for musical excellence.
In 2006, Hogwood passed leadership of the AAM on to Richard Egarr. His first CD as Music Director won a Gramophone Award; his second won a MIDEM Award and saw him christened “the Bernstein of early music” by USA National Public Radio.
Concerts with Egarr in 2009–10 see the orchestra performing music from Castello and Monteverdi to Finzi and Britten around the world. Highlights include a tour of Purcell’s Dido & Aeneas and Haydn’s Nelson Mass to Africa and the Far East; Purcell and Handel opera arias with soprano Carolyn Sampson in Portugal, The Netherlands and the UK, a Christmas tour of Handel’s Messiah around Europe and performances of Thomas Linley’s comic opera The Duenna.
The vitality of the AAM’s music making continues to be fostered by a range of guest directors. This season the orchestra works with Pavlo Beznosiuk, who directs a programme contrasting the Pergolesi and Vivaldi settings of the Stabat Mater, violinist Giuliano Carmignola, who directs music by Mendelssohn, Stephen Cleobury, who directs programmes of Haydn and Monteverdi, Paul Goodwin, who conducts Haydn symphonies at Esterháza Palace, and Stephen Layton, who conducts the AAM’s traditional Good Friday performance of JS Bach’s St John Passion with Polyphony.
The AAM’s pioneering recordings under Hogwood for Decca’s L’Oiseau-Lyre label cover much of the baroque and classical orchestral canon. They include the first recordings on period instruments of Mozart’s complete symphonies and Beethoven’s piano concertos, and prize-winning opera recordings starring Cecilia Bartoli, Emma Kirkby and Joan Sutherland. Further projects have resulted in recordings for EMI, Chandos, Erato and Harmonia Mundi, and the orchestra has released award-winning recordings with the choirs of King’s College, Cambridge and New College, Oxford.
With Richard Egarr, the orchestra is in the process of releasing a new cycle of Handel’s instrumental music published as Op.1-7. Other recent releases include JS Bach’s complete Brandenburg Concertos with Egarr, Purcell and Handel discs with Stephen Layton and the Choir of Trinity College, Cambridge on Hyperion, and, for EMI, Handel’s Messiah with Stephen Cleobury and the Choir of King’s College, Cambridge.
The AAM is Orchestra-in-Residence at the University of Cambridge.