Julian Perkins enjoys a busy and varied career as both conductor and keyboard player. Described as 'exuberantly stylish' by the Sunday Times, he loves bringing his experience as a leading performer on period instruments to his work with both period instrument ensembles and modern orchestras and to singers of varied performing backgrounds. He is Artistic Director of Cambridge Handel Opera and the Founder Director of Sounds Baroque.
Shortlisted for the 2021 Gramophone Award for his recording of Eccles’s Semele with the Academy of Ancient Music and Cambridge Handel Opera, Julian Perkins has been praised as both conductor and keyboard soloist for his 'demonic intensity' (BBC Music Magazine Recording of the Month), 'fluid and natural pacing' (Gramophone Editor's Choice) and 'verve and suavity' (Classical Music), conducting 'as if every bar means the world to him' (Opera Disc of the Month), and giving 'performances that reach to the heart of the music' (International Record Review).
With Sounds Baroque, Julian Perkins has directed many acclaimed performances, working alongside singers such as Rebecca Evans, Dame Emma Kirkby, Mark Padmore, Christopher Purves and Ashley Riches. The numerous instrumental groups he has directed range from the Academy of Ancient Music to the Northern Chamber Orchestra, while he has led eighteen Baroque projects with Southbank Sinfonia and opera productions for the Buxton International Festival, Cambridge Handel Opera, Guildhall School of Music & Drama, Kings Place, Netherlands Opera Academy, New Chamber Opera, New Kent Opera and Snape Maltings. A unique feature of his work with Sounds Baroque is his co-creation with librettist and critic Stephen Pettitt of carefully crafted pasticcio operas, evolving what was a common eighteenth-century practice for the modern age. So far they have created Casanova (2016) and Dinner with Handel (2021), both received with much acclaim.
As a keyboard player, Julian Perkins performs regularly at the Salzburg Festival, Edinburgh International Festival and BBC Proms, and has given concerto performances with the Royal Northern Sinfonia, the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Florilegium and the Orchestra of The Sixteen. Passionate about singers and singing, he has appeared as solo harpsichordist for the Royal Opera, Welsh National Opera and Northern Ireland Opera. He has featured on BBC Radio 3’s Early Music Show and In Tune and played at many prestigious venues, including London’s Wigmore Hall, New York’s Lincoln Center and Sydney Opera House. An avid recitalist, Julian has broken new ground at over a dozen international festivals by giving solo clavichord concerts, including programmes featuring complete performances of J. S. Bach’s two books of Das wohltemperierte Klavier. Duo recitals include appearances for the Mozart Society of America, the Oxford Lieder Festival and the Royal Opera with singers including Dame Emma Kirkby, James Bowman, Helen Charlston, Anna Dennis and Anna Stéphany, violinists Bojan Čičić and Peter Sheppard Skærved, keyboardists Emma Abbate and Terence Charlston, flautist Rachel Brown and gambist Reiko Ichise.
Julian read music at Cambridge University, before pursuing advanced studies at the Schola Cantorum, Basle, the Royal Academy of Music, London, and privately with conductor David Parry and harpsichordist Trevor Pinnock. Research is an essential element in his performing career, and his written articles have been published by Cambridge University Press, Oxford University Press and Rhinegold Publishing. Historically informed musicianship also inspires his work as a visiting coach at the Royal Opera as well as the masterclasses he gives for the National Opera Studio, music colleges and universities in the UK and abroad.