The English conductor, Andrew Parrott, studied at Queen Mary’s Grammar School, Walsall, and later at the University of Oxford, where he pursued research into the performing practices of 16th and 17th century music (BA 1969; postgraduate research 1969-c. 76).
Andrew Parrott has been a major fixture of the world’s musical life for the past twenty years, both as a widely respected scholar and as an internationally known conductor. He has worked as a tireless champion of the early music movement in his writings and on the podium, and his efforts have yielded results described as virtually faultless.
Andrew Parrott is perhaps best known as music director and conductor of the Taverner Choir, Consort and Players, a group of singers and instrumentalists he formed in response to an invitation to the Bath Festival by Sir Michael Tippett in 1973. Specialising in the music of the Renaissance and Baroque eras, the ensemble has become one of the foremost performing groups of early music active today. Under exclusive contract with Sony Classical, they made their label debut with Heart’s Solace, featuring two motets and the Trauer-Ode (BWV 198) by J. S. Bach. Their second release was a collection of Christmas music from the Middle Ages to the present, titled The Promise of Ages: A Christmas Collection. Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, was released in March 1999. In October, the label released Out of the Night an album of music by two of today’s best-known and most-performed classical composers, the Estonian Arvo Pärt and the Englishman John Tavener. In April 2000 Sony Classical released a disc of Gesualdo's Tenebrae, to coincide with the observance of the Catholic Church’s most sacred holidays.
Andrew Parrott also maintains an international conducting schedule, both in opera houses and on the symphony stage. In past seasons he has performed in Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the Czech Republic and the USA. Parrott’s musical range is broader still, however, and recent years have seen him conducting Mozart in Barcelona and Toronto, Don Giovanni around Japan, L.v. Beethoven in New York and Stockholm, the Missa solemnis in Switzerland, Igor Stravinsky at the BBC’s London Proms and in Flanders, as well as Bach in Germany, Canada and the USA, renaissance music and Monteverdi in Edinburgh, Baroque music in Prague and new music in Bratislava. He has recently taken up two significant appointments, as Musical Director (from September 2000) and Principal Conductor of the London Mozart Players and Music Director of the period-instrument New York Collegium.
Although his specialty is vocal music of the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries and more generally early music, Andrew Parrott is equally comfortable with music of later eras, and contemporary music has always been an important part of his work. He worked for several years as an assistant to Sir Michael Tippett. He conducted the premiere of Judith Weir’s A Night at the Chinese Opera (which he has also recorded for NMC with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra) and has made CDs of new music by other British composers (including John Tavener), by Vladimír Godár (with the Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra) and by Arvo Pärt. He has has also conducted major works by B. Britten, Henze, Nono, I. Stravinsky, Tippett, and Varèse.
Andrew Parrott is a well-known musicologist who combines scholarship and performance as much as possible. A specialist in the performance practice of early music, he has also published major articles on Monteverdi, Purcell and Bach, and is co-editor of the 700-page New Oxford Book of Carols (1992) and author of The Essential Bach Choir (2000; German translation: Bachs Chor: Zum neuen Verständnis 2003).