Hille Perl is widely regarded as one of the leading viola da gambists in the world. Because of the prominence of her instrument in the Baroque era, her repertory is rich in works from that period, with the names, J.S. Bach, Telemann, Marin Marais, Sainte-Colombe, and other 17th and 18th century composers headlining her concert programs and recordings. Perl also plays the treble viol, the seven-string bass viol, Baroque guitar, Lirone, and Xarana. She often performs with her husband, lutenist Lee Santana, in duo repertory, and together the pair have formed two other ensembles: Los Otros, with guitarist Steve Player, and the Age of Passions, with violinist/conductor Petra Müllejans and flutist Karl Kaiser. Perl has also appeared with some of the leading Baroque ensembles in Europe, like the Freiburger Barockorchester and the Harp Consort. She has made numerous recordings, many of them available from Deutsche Harmonia Mundi (DHM).
Hille Perl was born in Bremen, Germany, in 1965. Her father Helmuth was a harpsichordist, organist, and musicologist. Hille began playing the viola da gamba at five. She had studies with Niklas Trüstedt (Berlin) and with Pere Ros and Ingrid Stampa (Hamburg). Perl earned a degree in 1990 at Bremen's Academy for Early Music, where she studied with Sarah Cunningham and Jaap ter Linden.
Perl steadily built her career, and soon began appearing on recordings. Among the earliest was a 1997 Deutsche Harmonia Mundi CD, Spanish Gypsies, with Santana, Player, Andrew Lawrence-King, and other notables. Perl and Santana formed Los Otros (The Others) in 2001 and their first recording, Tinto, a collection of works by Kapsberger, Corbetta, and others, appeared on RCA Special Imports in 2003. From 2002, Perl has taught viola da gamba at the University of the Arts in Bremen, while remaining busy both in the concert hall and recording studio.
In 2004 Perl appeared on one of her most acclaimed recordings, Marais' Pour La Violle, with Santana, on DHM. Perl and Santana's daughter, Marthe Perl, is also an acclaimed viola da gambist. She joined her parents on a highly praised 2010 DHM CD entitled Loves Alchymie.
Perl's busy concert schedule includes appearances at many of the major Baroque festivals. She performed with Santana and harpsichordist Patrick Ayrton to great acclaim at the May 2011 Lufthansa Festival of Baroque Music, held at St. John's Smith Square in London. Their performances in an all-J.S. Bach program were later broadcast over BBC Radio 3.