Founded in 1997, and named after the flame-haired priest, Antonio Vivaldi, Red Priest has given several hundred sell-out concerts in many of the world's most prestigious festivals, including the Hong Kong Arts Festival, Moscow December Nights Festival, Schwetzingen Festival, Prague Spring Festival, Ravinia Festival, Bermuda Festival, and in most European countries, Japan, Australia, and throughout North and Central America. The group has been the subject of hour-long TV profiles for NHK (Japan) and ITV (UK) - the latter for the prestigious South Bank Show in 2005, which documented the launch of the Red Hot Baroque Show, an electrifying marriage of old music with the latest light and video technology.
In its regular line-up Red Priest comprises recorder player Piers Adams ("the reigning recorder virtuoso in the world today" - Washington Post), violinist Julia Bishop, cellist Angela East and harpsichordist Howard Beach; for most North American tours since 2006 the group has collaborated with the Canadian baroque/Cape-Breton violinist David Greenberg in place of Julia Bishop. These musicians have redefined the art of period performance, creating a virtual orchestra through their creative arrangements, perfoming from memory with swashbuckling virtuosity, heart-on-sleeve emotion and compelling stagecraft. Their repertoire ranges from obscure 17th century sonatas to the most famous works of Bach and Vivaldi, all presented in imaginative programmes with filmic titles: "Priest on the Run", "Nightmare in Venice", "Pirates of the Baroque", "Johann, I'm Only Dancing!"
Piers Adams was recently heralded in the Washington Post as 'the reigning recorder virtuoso in the world today'. He has performed in numerous festivals and at premiere concert halls throughout the world, including London's Royal Festival, Wigmore and Queen Elizabeth Halls, and as concerto soloist with the Philharmonia, the English Sinfonia, the Irish Chamber Orchestra, the Academy of Ancient Music, the Singapore Symphony and the BBC Symphony. Piers has made several solo CDs reflecting an eclectic taste, ranging from his award-winning Vivaldi d?but disc (Cala) to David Bedford's Recorder Concerto (NMC) - one of many major works written for and premiered by him. He has also researched, arranged and recorded many classical, romantic, impressionist and folk-influenced showpieces, which are a mainstay of his recital programs. Full details of his performing activities can be found on his website (click link opposite).
Julia Bishop is one of the outstanding baroque violin specialists of her generation, with a virtuoso style described in the BBC Music Magazine as 'psychedelic'. She has toured the world with most of the UK's leading period instrument orchestras, including the English Concert, of which she was a member for six years. Julia has worked extensively as an orchestral leader and soloist, in particular with the celebrated Gabrieli Consort, with whom she has performed internationally and appeared on numerous discs for Deutsche Grammophon. She has also appeared as concerto soloist with Florilegium, the Brandenburg Consort and the Hanover Band, and recorded virtuoso sonatas by Festing for BBC Radio 3's 'Music Restored'.
Angela East is widely respected as one of the most brilliant and dynamic performers in the period instrument world, praised in The Times, London, for the 'elemental power' of her cello playing. She has given numerous concerto performances in London's Queen Elizabeth and Wigmore Halls, and has performed as soloist and continuo cellist with many of Europe's leading baroque orchestras. Among her impressive list of concert credits are La Scala, Milan, Sydney Opera House, Versailles and Glyndebourne. In 1991 Angela formed 'The Revolutionary Drawing Room' which performs chamber works from the revolutionary period in Europe on original instruments, and whose first eight CDs have received glowing reviews world-wide. Her long awaited disc of Bach's Cello Suites is due for release on Red Priest Recordings in 2009, together with a recital disc of popular baroque cello sonatas.
Howard Beach's uniquely wide-ranging style of keyboard playing has been developed through years of partnering fine musicians in many different fields of music, as well as his own experience as an accomplished singer and violinist. Since 1989 he has worked regularly with Piers Adams in concert and in the recording studio as both harpsichordist and pianist - including several performances in London's Wigmore Hall and tours throughout Europe, Canada and the Far East. He has also performed and recorded as a concerto soloist and continuo player with Les Arts Florissants, the Apollo Chamber Orchestra and the London Mozart Players. Howard broadcasts frequently on radio and has been consultant and performer for Channel 4 TV.
David Greenberg - Red Priest's regular US guest violinist - taught himself folk fiddle tunes by ear as a young child growing up in Maryland. In the mid 80s he studied baroque violin with Stanley Ritchie. Greenberg spent the 1990s with Tafelmusik while developing a speciality in Scottish baroque-folk music, recording three groundbreaking CDs in this genre with the group Puirt A Baroque. He immersed himself in Cape Breton traditional music and co-authored the popular treatise on Cape Breton fiddle music, the DunGreen Collection, with his wife, Kate Dunlay. He lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia. In addition to Red Priest, regular collaborators include his own Tempest ensemble, David McGuinness, Chris Norman and Doug MacPhee.