About Julian Perkins
Julian Perkins is a vital presence on the early music scene, equally well known as a conductor and keyboard player. He also sings, teaches, and is a noted researcher.
Perkins was born in London. He was the youngest of four siblings, taking up keyboards, violin, and recorder to keep up with his brothers and sisters, and becoming frustrated that his legs were not long enough to allow him to play the organ. As a child, he sang in a performance of Mahler's Symphony No. 8 ("Symphony of a Thousand") under conductor Klaus Tennstedt, recalling to The Cross-Eyed Pianist site: "A grumpy old man, in poor health, flailing about in a seemingly haphazard manner on the podium, but I have never, ever heard an orchestra or choir sound like they did with him -- and this had nothing to do with his relative fame." Perkins studied at King's College, Cambridge, and went on for further studies as harpsichordist and conductor at the Schola Cantorum in Basel and the Royal Academy of Music in London. Perkins founded the early music ensemble Sounds Baroque in 2005 and has since served as its director. The group has attracted top-notch soloists, including Simon Callow, Dame Emma Kirkby, and Mark Padmore. He is a frequent guest conductor with the Southbank Sinfonia and has conducted opera productions at the Buxton International Festival, Cambridge Handel Opera (where he has served as artistic director), Guildhall School of Music & Drama, and other venues. As a keyboardist, he has played concertos with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, the Orchestra of the Sixteen, and the Royal Northern Sinfonia, among other groups. As well as harpsichord, Perkins plays the fortepiano and the clavichord; he has often given solo recitals on the latter instrument at festivals.
Perkins has made clavichord recordings of 20th century music (Herbert Howells and Stephen Dodgson) as well as Bach's French Suites, BWV 812-817. He has also recorded for Avie and Resonus Classics as the conductor of Sounds Baroque. Perkins has performed and recorded piano duo music with Emma Abbate, and he joined violinist Peter Sheppard Skaerved for a recording of three Schubert sonatas on historically appropriate instruments in 2020. Perkins teaches harpsichord at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, and he has given master classes at Britain's Royal Opera Studio. His research articles have been published by both the Oxford and Cambridge University Presses. ~ James Manheim