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Paul Agnew

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Known as of the world's foremost performers of Baroque music , tenor and countertenor Paul Agnew is an exceptionally prolific and versatile singer whose credits read like a survey of Western music, from the Middle Ages to modern times. Born in Glasgow in 1964, Agnew studied music as a Choral Scholar at Magdalen College, Oxford University, which means that in addition to his academic work, he performed regularly with the chapel choir. After graduation, he joined Anthony Rooley's early music group the Consort of Musicke, and appeared with other prominent groups, including the Tallis Scholars, the Gothic Voices, and the Sixteen. In the early '90s, Agnew embarked on a career as a soloist. His immense talent caught the eye of William Christie, conductor of Les Arts Florissants, the group known for its extraordinary performances of many forgotten masterpieces of the French Baroque. Consequently, Agnew started performing with Les Arts Florissants, soon becoming the group's star vocal soloist. His operatic debut with the ensemble was in the role of Hyppolite, in Rameau's Hippolyte et Aricie at the Palais Garnier, in Paris. This critically acclaimed production was taken to Nice, Caen, Montpelier, and New York. It so happened that another tenor performed the title role in the recording, but Agnew, who sang the part of Cupid, received many compliments for his exquisite rendition of the aria "Plaisirs doux vainqueurs." Another brilliant performance was the role of Jason in the Les Arts Florissants production of Charpentier's Medée, which was also recorded with another singer in the title role. Fortunately, Agnew performed in a number of splendid Les Arts Florissants recordings, including Charpentier's cantata Orphée descendant aux enfers and Les Plaisirs de Versailles, Handel's Acis and Galatea, and Rameau's Grands Motets. The Grands Motets disc won the Gramophone Best Early Music Vocal award. In addition to his work with Les Arts Florissants, Agnew has sung with several world-class ensembles. He appeared in Purcell's King Arthur, with the English Baroque Soloists under the direction of John Eliot Gardiner. He was also in Purcell's Dioclesian, Timon of Athens, and The Fairy Queen with the English Consort, under the direction of Trevor Pinnock. Agnew sang in a number of operas by Monteverdi, and also notable are his performances in Bach's great choral works. Agnew sang in Mozart's Coronation Mass, also performing the role of Arbace in Idomeneo. His contributions to the Romantic repertoire include Schubert's Lazarus and Berlioz's L'Enfance du Christ. A superb performer of English Medieval and Renaissance songs, Agnew has recorded with lutenist Christopher Wilson. Agnew took up the baton in 2007 as the associate conductor of Les Arts, the first person other than Christie to lead the ensemble, and later was named its joint music director. In the meantime, he also began guest conducting other groups such as the Norwegian Chamber Orchestra and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra (both in 2013).

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