Paul McCreesh is one of the better-known figures on London's active early music scene, particularly as a conductor of small ensemble music of the Baroque.
He grew up playing the cello. While at Manchester University, he formed a student chamber choir and ensemble of period instruments. In 1982 he organized it formally as the Gabrieli Consort and Players. Although the ensemble played a considerable amount of the well-knownRead more eighteenth-century Baroque music of Bach, Handel, and Vivaldi, McCreesh retained a special interest in earlier Baroque and even late Renaissance music (as implied by his ensemble's name), covering the time period between the Gabrieli brothers and the Purcell brothers.
He brought the Gabrieli Consort and Players to a prominent position, confirmed by their being signed, in 1993, as exclusive Deutsche Grammophon artists. (They appear mainly on DG's specialized early music label, Archiv Produktionen.) His first recording for the label, Venetian Vespers, won the Gramophone Award for Early Music in 1993, and a nomination for the American Grammy Award. Subsequent discs devoted to music of Palestrina and Praetorius have won other coveted prizes, including the Diapason d'Or, the Deutschen Schallplatten Preis, and the Edison Award, and the 1998 release, A Requiem for Philip II won the Choc de la Musique.
McCreesh has conducted the Gabrieli Consort & Players at major venues and festivals. They were invited in 1995 to open Paris's Cité de la Musique (that year's theme: A Venetian Festival), have appeared at the BBC Henry Woods Promenade Concerts, and, in 1996, performed their first opera, Handel's Orlando, in concert. In a rare foray outside their usual time period, McCreesh conducted the Consort & Players at the City of London Festival in Anton Bruckner's Mass in E minor, interpolating appropriate motets by Palestrina.
McCreesh's activities aside from leading the Gabrieli include active appearances as guest conductor in the U.K., Italy, the Netherlands, and the United States. He conducted a fully staged production of Carissimi's Jepthe in San Antonio, Texas, and has conducted the Netherlands Bach Society in the German master's Magnificat and selected cantatas. He has conducted Handel in the composer's birth town of Halle, and Purcell in Washington, D.C. In more standard repertory, he has conducted the Newcastle Sinfonia in music of Stravinsky and Elgar, Fauré's Requiem, and Beethoven's Eroica Symphony. Read less