ALK Biography

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Baroque opera, orchestral & ensemble director, imaginative continuo-player, Early Harp virtuoso, specialist in baroque gesture & Historical Action, investigator of Flow, Andrew Lawrence-King is the doyen of historical harping, one of the world’s leading performers of Early Music, and an internationally renowned scholar. His pioneering recordings of Trabaci, Ribayaz, Handel and Carolan re-established the lost worlds of Italian, Spanish, Anglo-Welsh & Irish baroque harps; as co-director of Tragicomedia and director of The Harp Consort, he led a revolution in improvisation & continuo-playing; his research into Tactus has redefined our understanding of baroque rhythm; as guest director and teacher, he inspires musicians around the world to reach new levels of technical precision and stylish historicity with fun, energy and passion.

In 2012, he opened the new hall of the Natalya Satz theatre, Moscow with a production of the earliest surviving opera, Cavalieri’s Anima e Corpo, which won the Golden Mask, Russia’s top theatrical award, as the Jury’s Special Prize in all categories of music-theatre (opera, operetta, musicals, ballet etc). In 2013, he directed the first performance in modern times in Spain of the earliest surviving Spanish Oratorio, in a staged production at the Portico de Paraíso festival in Ourense cathedral. He also directed (stage & music) the first staged production in modern times of Stefano Landi’s 1619 tragicomedy La Morte d’Orfeo at the St Petersburg Philharmonia, and the first performance in Russia of Monteverdi's 1610 Vespers. In 2019, his direction of Handel’s Orlando won the Russian Eugene Onegin Award and has been nominated for another Golden Mask.

A creative and inspiring leader, he has directed baroque operas, oratorios and chamber music at La Scala, Milan; Sydney Opera House; Casals Hall, Tokyo; Berlin, Vienna & Moscow Philharmonics; Vienna Konzerthaus; New York’s Carnegie Hall and Mexico City’s Palacio de Bellas Artes.

 

During his long collaboration as harp soloist with Jordi Savall, he has won a Grammy (best ensemble 2011), the Spanish Premio de la Música in duet (2010) & trio (2011), and Australia’s Helpmann Award in duet (2013) & ensemble (2018). His recording of Earthly Angels with soprano Kajsa Dahlbäck was YLE, the Finnish broadcasting company’s CD of the year (2018). 

2017 saw the premieres of Andrew Lawrence-King’s first two operatic compositions: Kalevala: the Opera, setting the Finnish national epic to ancient traditional melodies; and Arianna a la recherche, a remake of Monteverdi’s lost 1608 masterpiece from Rinucini’s libretto and the surviving musical fragment, the famous Lamento. Andrew’s latest recording traces the roots of favourite Christmas carols from the Finnish Piae Cantiones (1582) with the Helsinki Utopia Choir, released on Jordi Savall’s AliaVox Diversa label (2019).


From 2010-2015, Dr Lawrence-King was Senior Visiting Research Fellow for the Australian Centre for the History of Emotions. He is Professor of Early Harp and Continuo at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama, London and Director of Opera Omnia, Academy for Early Opera & Dance, Institute at Moscow State Theatre Natalya Sats. He is currently working on an English translation of Il Corago, the anonymous c1630 guide for baroque opera directors. Inspired by Peter & the Wolf and the Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra, his latest operatic composition, The Play of Music & Time: an Explorer’s Guide to Early Opera will be premiered in 2020.

Andrew Lawrence-King directs The Harp Consort, combining state-of-the art early music performance with stylish improvisation & entertaining stage presentation; Il Corago, the production team for historical staging of early opera; the International Baroque Opera Studio and Opera Omnia Moscow.

 

A keen sailor, Andrew holds the Royal Yachting Association's coveted Ocean Yachtmaster certificate, and spends most of his free time on his native island of Guernsey aboard his boat, ‘Continuo’. This passion for the sea is expressed in his revival of Guernesiais traditional music, Les Travailleurs de la Mer: Ancient Songs from a Small Island. Andrew's hobbies include marathon running, kayaking, fencing (modern epée & historical rapier) and Tai Chi. He is a qualified hypnotist. 

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Andrew Lawrence-King directs (stage & music) Purcell's Dido & Aeneas

with Concerto Copenhagen & Il Corago

 

Photo: Katerina Antonenko

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Andrew Lawrence-King’s musical career began as Head Chorister at the Cathedral and Parish Church of St Peter Port Guernsey, whence he won an Organ Scholarship to Cambridge, completing his studies at the London Early Music Centre. He made his professional debut at London’s Royal Albert Hall playing medieval harp in the BBC Promenade Concerts, and  rapidly established himself as a versatile continuo-player with  Europe's foremost specialist ensembles. In 1988 he founded and co-directed the continuo-group Tragicomedia. He joined Jordi Savall's Hesperion XX, and was appointed Professor of Harp and Continuo at the Akademie für Alte Musik, Bremen, and the Escuela Superior de Musica de Catalunya in Barcelona. He has also taught at the Sibelius Academy and Helsinki Stadia (Finland), and is a regular teacher at the Historical Harp Society of Ireland’s Scoil na gClàirseach.

 

n 1994 Andrew Lawrence-King formed his own ensemble, The Harp Consort, and was immediately signed up by Deutsche Harmonia Mundi for a seven-year series of solo and ensemble recordings: Luz y Norte [Diapason d’Or & Amadeus magazine’s CD of the year]; the medieval 'opera' Ludus Danielis; Italian Concerto, on which he is both conductor and concerto soloist [Echo Prize for Best Early Music CD, German Phonographic Academy]; La púrpura de la rosa, the first New World opera [Noah Greenberg Award].

 

Andrew’s recital CDs include The Harp of Luduvico (Spanish & Italian renaissance) La Harpe Royale (French Baroque), His Majesty’s Harper (Dowland & Byrd) and The Secret of the Semitones (Bach), and he has also recorded Vivaldi’s Four Seasons  & Handel's first opera, Almira, [American Handel Society CD of the Year].

 

The Harp Consort now records exclusively for Harmonia Mundi USA. Their chart-topping first release was Missa Mexicana: festive polyphony and popular dances from 17th-century Mexico [LondonTimes CD of the Year]. Their second CD, Miracles (songs by Gautier de Coincy, 13th -century Prior of Vic) won the Dutch “Edison” award: it was also Gramophone Magazine’s Editor’s Choice & London Telegraph CD of the Year. Their latest release is El Arte de Fantasía: dances, tientos & chansons from the Spanish Golden Age.

 

Andrew Lawrence-King directed a staged production of Peri’s Euridice at the Los Angeles Getty Centre for the 400th anniversary of the earliest opera, and he directed the first performance in Florence since 1589 of the Florentine Intermedi in its original location, the Palazzo Medici. Last year he directed (stage & music) Monteverdi’s Orfeo and the medieval Ludus Danielis in Copenhagen. His work on 17th-century dances with The Harp Consort has won the ensemble an unparalleled reputation for stylish and entertaining stage-shows, and provides the foundation for Il Corago, a directorial team offering a unified and stylish approach to staging early opera. Andrew’s work on early Irish harps has gained considerable attention in traditional music circles, and two CD volumes of The Celtic Viol with Jordi Savall are worldwide best-sellers and winners of the Spanish Premio award for two consecutive years. His duo album with Paul Hillier was chosen by Elvis Costello as record of the year in Rolling Stone magazine, and he has been awarded an honorary doctorate by Sheffield University for his achievements in Baroque opera.

 

Andrew Lawrence-King now divides his time between solo recitals, tours with The Harp Consort, productions with Il Corago, and appearances as guest director for orchestras, choirs and baroque operas in Europe, Scandinavia and the Americas, interspersed with worldwide performances of Luz y norte and Missa Mexicana. He is Principal Guest Director of Concerto Copenhagen (Scandinavia's leading baroque orchestra), and the Florentine ensemble, L'Homme Armé (specialising in baroque opera and oratorio). He was awarded a three-year Research Fellowship by the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council to research Spanish Baroque music-drama and has been invited to the University of Western Australia, Perth as Senior Visiting Research Fellow in baroque opera. He is Professor of Early Harp at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, London and teaches Harp & Continuo at the Royal Danish Academy of Music in Copenhagen. His first solo recital for Harmonia Mundi USA is Chorégraphie: Music for Louis XIV’s Dancing Masters.

 

In recent years Andrew has premiered a newly reconstructed Handel harp concerto and is directing a six-year cycle of performances of the Brandenburg concertos in Finland. He was artistic director for Monteverdi’s sword-fighting opera Combattimento in conjunction with the London Olympics, and as Il Corago directed stage action and music for Purcell’s Dido & Aeneas with Concerto Copenhagen. At the opening concert of the 2012 Inter-Celtic festival in Lorient and at Womad 2013, Andrew played Carolan and traditional Scots music on early Irish harp.

Andrew Lawrence-King with Italian baroque harp (by Rainer Thurau after Domenico Zampieri)

 

Photo: Katerina Antonenko

Andrew Lawrence-King with Spanish baroque harp (by Rainer Thurau after Diego Fernández de Huete)

 

Photo: Katerina Antonenko

Andrew Lawrence-King with renaissance harp

(by Rainer Thurau after Hieronymus Bosch)

 

Photo: Katerina Antonenko

Andrew Lawrence-King with Irish baroque harp (by Tim Hobrough after O' Neill)

 

Photo: Katerina Antonenko

Andrew Lawrence-King directs The Harp Consort in Missa Mexicana

 

Photo: Katerina Antonenko