About Christopher Page
A philologist by training, a musicologist by proven merit, and a performer by deep instinct, Christopher Page integrates the various aspects of his professional life as a humanist in the best sense of the word. He once welcomed a reviewer's comment that described his book as "Social history illuminated by its interest in music as an essential part of human experience." Page's career in scholarly teaching and publication freely informs his life as a performer of medieval musics and vice versa; both contribute to his vibrant analyses of medieval thought, especially that concerning music and the experience of music in human society. Page's academic credentials include a bachelor's degree in English from Oxford University (1974) and a PhD. from the University of York (1981). While completing his dissertation on Anglo-Saxon verse forms, he began publishing articles on the history of musical instruments as seen in medieval texts and illuminations, as well as papers on performance practice. New College, Oxford, appointed him lecturer in Old and Middle English (1980-1985), followed by the University of Cambridge in 1985. In 1997, Cambridge named him Reader in Medieval Literature and Music; he also served as a Fellow of Sidney Sussex College. In 1991, he was awarded the Dent Medal of the Royal Musical Association for outstanding services to musicology. Among his publications, three books have held particular interest to musicians. Voices and Instruments in the Middle Ages (1986) argues that a medieval lyric's genre directly relates to the use and type of instrumental accompaniment; The Owl and the Nightingale (1989) traces social changes regarding music and musicians in the newly "invented" state of medieval France, and Discarding Images (1993) explores the diversity of twelfth to fifteenth century life in the face of a "cultural myth of the Middle Ages" as monolithic unity, perpetuated (according to Page) in part by art historians and musicologists. Page's ensemble the Gothic Voices has brought medieval European culture even closer to the present through a score of recording projects and a vigorous touring schedule. The recordings (supported by Page's own extensive program notes) include two critically acclaimed series on varieties of medieval French and English musics and span the gamut from the sequences of Hildegard of Bingen, music for the coronation of Richard the Lionhearted, and troubador/touvère repertories to masses of Pierre de la Rue from the turn of the sixteenth century. The group's first recording (A Feather on the Breath of God) earned Page the first of three Grammys for early music performance. He has contributed his own skills as a lutenist and harpist on several recordings, but has also used compelling all-vocal performances as a laboratory for his scholarly hypotheses on the absence of instruments in the performance of certain types of medieval polyphony.