Background Information
Performer Bios

Poet/Composer Bios

Additional Information

Biographies of Performers: Main Page | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z
Explanation | Acronyms | Missing Biographies | The Sad Corner

Stephen Varcoe (Bass-Baritone)

Born: May 19, 1949 - Lostwithiel, Cornwall, England

The English bass-baritone, Stephen (Chistopher) Varcoe, studied at Cambridge, and during his school years there he sang in the King’s College Choir. In 1977 he won a scholarship from the Gulbenkian Foundation.

Stephen Varcoe has established a reputation as one of Britain's most versatile baritones, and has sung in opera, concerts and recitals covering a wide range of repertoire in Europe, the USA and the Far East. He is often to be heard performing Bach Cantatas, Songs from Schubert, and Victorian Ballads. His musical repertoire is quite extensive and reaches into modern music. An area of emphasis, however, is compositions from the time of J.S. Bach and George Frideric Handel. Stephen has always been fascinated by the relationship between words and music, and the role of the singer in communicating meaning to an audience and is currently writing a book on singing in English. He is in constant demand for master-classes as a specialist in German lieder and English songs, having taught at many UK Universities and Colleges.

Stephen Varcoe's operatic appearances include Haydn's L'Infedelta Delusa in Antwerp, Debussy's Fall of The House of Usher in Lisbon and London, John Tavener's opera Mary Of Egypt for the Aldeburgh Festival and Plutone in Peri's Euridice for the Drottningholm Festival, Sweden. His repertoire also includes Death in Gustav Holst's Savitr, Demetrius in Benjamin Britten's A Midsummer Night's Dream and Salieri in Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov's Mozart & Salieri.

Stephen Varcoe has appeared with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Ulster Orchestra, Chamber Orchestra of Europe, Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, New Zealand Chamber Orchestra, Hanover Band, at the Gulbenkian Foundation in Portugal, at the National Arts Centre Orchestra, Ottawa, with the King’s Consort, at the Festival Cervantino in Mexico, and with the conductors Frans Brüggen, Daniel, John Eliot Gardiner, Richard Hickox, Lindberg, Charles Mackerras, Jean-Claude Malgoire, Marc Minkowski, Östman, Trevor Pinnock, Joshua Rifkin, Roszdevensky and Tortelier. Recent engagements have included Goehr's Sonata About Jerusalem with Knussen and the Schoenberg Ensemble, J.S. Bach's St Matthew Passion (BWV 244) with Trevor Pinnock in Ottawa, Bach Cantatas with the Bach Sonnerie at the Spitalfields Festival, Ralph Vaughan Williams' Sir John In Love with Richard Hickox and the Northern Sinfonia, Anton Webern's Cantata II with Simon Joly and The BBC Symphony Orchestra, Schubert's Mass in E flat with Roger Norrington and the Vienna Symphony Orchestra and Messiah with Steuart Bedford the City of London Sinfonia.

Stephen Varcoe appears regularly in recital in England and abroad and is heard frequently in recital with the Songmakers' Almanac and on BBC Radio 3. Recent recital work has included a programme of Finzi and Somervell with Iain Burnside, Schubert's Winterreise with Eugene Asti, Johannes Brahms, Robert Schumann and Wolf at the Wigmore Hall with Graham Johnson, Percy Grainger with Penelope Thwaites for BBC Radio 3 and Schubert and with Graham Johnson at the Bury St Edmund's Festival.

Stephen Varcoe has made over 100 recordings including Purcell, G.F. Handel and J.S. Bach with Trevor Pinnock, John Eliot Gardiner, Richard Hickox and Sigiswald Kuijken, W.A. Mozart with Neville Marriner, Gabriel Fauré with John Rutter, Gustav Holst with Richard Hickox, Richard Strauss with Roger Norrington, recitals of Finzi and Parry with Clifford Benson and French songs with Graham Johnson, with whom he recorded Vol. 2 in the Hyperion Schubert edition. He has also recorded Haydn and Percy Grainger for Chandos with Richard Hickox and the City of London Sinfonia, Arnold Schoenberg with Robert Craft and The 20th Century Classics Ensemble and Igor Stravinsky with Robert Craft and The Orchestra of St. Luke's.

Stephen Varcoe's future engagements include Haydn at The Proms with Richard Hickox, Bach with Gustav Leonhardt and The Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and with Bernard Labadie and Les Violons du Roy and appearances in Athens, Tel Aviv and Denmark as well as recordings for Hyperion and Chandos.

Source: Liner notes to Rondeau CD ROP-2006 (Cantatas BWV 215 & BWV 195, conducted by Beringer, 2000); Caroline Phillips Management Website
Contributed by
Aryeh Oron (April 2001)

Recordings of Bach Cantatas & Other Vocal Works




Karl Friedrich Beringer


BWV 195, BWV 215

Stephen Cleobury


V-3 (1996): BWV 245 [1st recording]

John Eliot Gardiner


BWV 4, BWV 11 [1st], BWV 37 [1st], BWV 43 [1st], BWV 72, BWV 73, BWV 106 [1st], BWV 111, BWV 131, BWV 140, BWV 147, BWV 156, BWV 198
BCP: BWV 2, BWV 6, BWV 9, BWV 10, BWV 31, BWV 42, BWV 66, BWV 67, BWV 76, BWV 85, BWV 104, BWV 108, BWV 112, BWV 117, BWV 145, BWV 150, BWV 158, BWV 166
BWV 232 [1st], BWV 245 [1st , Jesus]

John Eliot Gardiner


Member of Monteverdi Choir:
BWV 232 [1st, 1985]

Paul Goodwin


BWV 244 [1st, 1997], BWV 244 [2nd, 2001, VHS]

Richard Hickox


BWV 232, BWV 243

Hans-Martin Linde


BWV 233-236

Hermann Max


J.L. Bach: Cantata Ja, mir hast du Arbeit gemacht, JLB-5
J.L. Bach: Cantata Die mit Tränen säen, JLB-8
J.L. Bach: Cantata Mache dich auf, werde licht, JLB-9
J.L. Bach: Cantata Er machet uns lebendig, JB-11

Peter Seymour


BWV 245 [Jesus]

Daniel Taylor


BWV 106, BWV 131, BWV 152

Links to other Sites

Stephen Varcoe - Baritone (CPM)
Stephen Varcoe - Baritone (Hyperion)
Stephen Varcoe - Bass-Baritone (Guild Music)

Soloists Biographies (Collegium Instrumentale Brugense)
Varcoe Stephen (ATMA Classique)

Biographies of Performers: Main Page | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z
Explanation | Acronyms | Missing Biographies | The Sad Corner


Back to the Top

Last update: Tuesday, May 30, 2017 05:35