About Robert Hollingworth
Conductor Robert Hollingworth has been a major figure on the British early music scene since the mid-1980s through his leadership of the vocal group I Fagiolini, his conducting work with other choirs, and his educational activities. Like so many other figures in British vocal music, Hollingworth had his first musical performance experiences as a boy chorister, in his case at Hereford Cathedral. He took violin and keyboard lessons before settling on a career in vocal music; he attended New College, Oxford University, majoring in music and singing and traveling widely with its choir. At Oxford, Hollingworth worked with the pioneering early music conductor Edward Higginbottom, who suggested that he create a new vocal ensemble of his own. The result was I Fagiolini, which gave its first concerts in 1986. The name, which means "the little beans" in Italian, resulted from a curious nickname for early music at Oxford: it was called "beany music" owing to the vegetarian proclivities of many of its practitioners.
Hollingworth went on for a postgraduate early music course at London's Guildhall School of Music and Drama, and since then I Fagiolini has been in demand not only in the U.K. but far beyond. The ensemble has toured the U.S., East Asia, and Africa, and has appeared at the Proms concerts in London. Hollingworth has also recorded with I Fagiolini, with albums released on the Erato, Metronome, and Chandos labels, including 2017's Monteverdi: The Other Vespers, a musical Vespers service reconstructed from late music by Monteverdi as well as works by other composers. In between all these activities, he has found time to work extensively with larger choral groups including the Leicester Bach Choir, the Netherlands Chamber Choir, the North German Radio Choir, and the National Chamber Choir of Ireland. Hollingworth has also directed a production of Monteverdi's L'Orfeo for Opera Zuid in the Netherlands, and he has worked with the early music ensembles Florilegium, The Bach Players, and Fretwork. He coached actor Joaquin Phoenix on conducting in the film Quills and has appeared on the BBC 2 and BBC 3 radio networks as a presenter. Hollingworth is well known among ordinary choristers for his work with the Lacock Courses, educational programs for choral singers held in touristic places relevant to specific choral repertories. ~ James Manheim