Described as ‘exuberantly stylish’ by the Sunday Times, Julian Perkins enjoys a demanding career as a conductor and keyboard player. He loves bringing his many experiences as a leading performer on period instruments to his work with singers, period instrument ensembles and modern orchestras, and is Artistic Director of Cambridge Handel Opera and Founder Director of Sounds Baroque. He is currently on the shortlist for a Gramophone Award as an opera conductor for his recording of Eccles' Semele with the Academy of Ancient Music and Cambridge Handel Opera.
With Sounds Baroque, Julian Perkins has directed acclaimed performances with singers including Rebecca Evans, Dame Emma Kirkby, Mark Padmore, Christopher Purves and Ashley Riches. He has directed numerous groups ranging from the Academy of Ancient Music to the Northern Chamber Orchestra, conducted eighteen Baroque projects with Southbank Sinfonia and conducted opera productions for organisations such as 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.
As a player, Julian Perkins performs regularly at the Salzburg Festival, Edinburgh International Festival and BBC Proms. He has gained a wealth of experience performing with many prominent period instrument ensembles and modern orchestras including concerto appearances with the Royal Northern Sinfonia, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Florilegium and Orchestra of The Sixteen. Passionate about singing, he has appeared as solo harpsichordist for productions at the Royal Opera House, Welsh National Opera and Northern Ireland Opera. He has featured on the BBC Early Music Show and played at venues such as 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 through giving solo concerts on the clavichord with programmes that have featured complete performances of J. S. Bach’s two books of Das wohltemperierte Klavier, and he has given numerous duo recitals for organizations such as the Mozart Society of America, Oxford Lieder Festival and the Royal Opera House.
Julian's conducting and playing in concert and the recording studio has been praised for its '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) with 'performances that reach to the heart of the music' (International Record Review).
Julian read music at Cambridge University before pursuing advanced studies at the Schola Cantorum, Basle and the Royal Academy of Music, London. Research is an essential element in Julian's performing career, and he has written articles published by Cambridge University Press, Oxford University Press and Rhinegold Publishing. Historically informed musicianship inspires his work as a visiting coach at the Royal Opera House, and the masterclasses that he gives for the National Opera Studio, music colleges and universities both in the UK and abroad.