RED PRIEST

 

Red Priest is the only early music group in the world to have been compared in the press to the Rolling Stones, Jackson Pollock, the Marx Brothers, Spike Jones and the Cirque du Soleil. This extraordinary acoustic foursome has been described by music critics as ‘visionary and heretical’, ‘outrageous yet compulsive’, ‘wholly irreverent and highly enlightened’, ‘completely wild and deeply imaginative’, with a ‘red-hot wicked sense of humour’ and a ‘break-all-rules, rock-chamber concert approach to early music’.

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.

Red Priest comprises recorder player Piers Adams, violinist Adam Summerhayes, cellist Angela East and harpsichordist David Wright. These musicians have redefined the art of period performance, creating a virtual orchestra through their creative arrangements, performing 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’.

In 2008 Red Priest launched its own record label, Red Priest Recordings, which is now the home for all of the recordings of the ensemble and its members, and has attracted much attention in the music press worldwide. The label is distributed worldwide by Nimbus.

THE MEMBERS

Piers Adams is the modern day wild man of the recorder.   His stubborn refusal to accept the natural limitations of his instrument has led the Washington Post to describe him as ‘superhuman’, and International Record Review to declare: ‘The things Adams does with his recorders defy the imagination.’   Born in 1963 he trained initially as a physicist before joining the tail end of the Dutch recorder movement of the 1970s and 80s, rapidly branching out from there to create his own, unique sound and stage personality.  Innovations in recorder design – most recently the ‘Eagle Recorder’ – have enabled Adams to expand the instrument’s repertoire to include every musical genre from renaissance to romantic to rock, and to astonish audiences with its expressive possibilities.   His concert tours have taken him to all corners of the globe, performing over 1000 concerts with his iconic baroque quartet Red Priest, as well as recitals and concertos with international symphony and chamber orchestras, and numerous TV and radio appearances.  Visit www.piersadams .com for full information about his CD recordings and concert schedule.
 
Adam Summerhayes's grandfather studied the violin with Joachim's last pupil and with Adolf Brodsky, the violinist who premiered the Tchaikovsky concerto. He learnt first from him and then from Yfrah Neaman, one of the twentieth century's greatest pedagogues. He was introduced to the Baroque violin by Roy Goodman in the 1980s, initiated into period instrument performance by Paul McCreesh and studied with Micaela Comberti, then at the forefront of the early music scene.

He has been very highly acclaimed as a chamber musician, particularly for a number of discs featuring first recordings of previously unknown repertoire, including works by Aaron Copland.  He has also given many concerto performances in europe, Russia and the USA. Adam has recorded over 20 CDs for Harmonia Mundi, Chandos, ASV, Meridian, Sargasso and others. A disc of his gypsy fiddle playing, was described as "heady stuff… thrilling virtuoso playing" (Gramophone). This disc lead to a cameo film moment, in Guy Ritchie's recent blockbuster Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows. A performance of one of his own tracks is also featured. 

He has broadcast live for BBC Radio 3 - including on the Early Music Show - and his recordings and compositions have been broadcast throughout the world.
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 has recently been released on Red Priest Recordings. Her CD of popular baroque cello works, ‘Baroque Cello Illuminations’, has received excellent reviews and was chosen as ‘CD of the Fortnight’ in Classical Music Magazine.
David Wright has spent many years trying to shed his reputation as the hard man of the harpsichord, having come to the instrument as a refuge from his East End gangland upbringing.  The final spur to pursue a career in music came in 1994 when, as a 17-year old, he found himself facing a sawn-off shotgun at close range in an underground car-park.   Since that time he has reinvented himself as something of an 18th century fop and lothario, thanks to several years of study in sundry London music colleges (he was previously self taught) and a penchant for baroque beauty and morals.   With his harpsichord he has toured throughout Europe, America and the Far East, sharing the stage with such Early Music luminaries as Emma Kirkby and James Bowman, performing concertos, directing orchestras and operas (including the first modern day performance of Arne's The Blind Beggar of Bethnal Green), and championing the instrument’s solo repertoire – in particular Bach’s Goldberg Variations.  His unconventional background and unsurpassable technique made him a natural to join Red Priest, with whom he has toured and recorded since 2011.