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SIR ROGER NORRINGTON is a native of Oxford, England, where he came from a University family with strong musical connections. He was a talented boy soprano, going on to study the violin from the age of ten and singing from the age of 17, but after school at Westminster and military service, his higher education was in English Literature at Cambridge. After several years experience as a violinist, tenor, and conductor, he returned to his studies at the Royal College of Music under Sir Adrian Boult.
In 1962, he founded the Schütz Choir and thus began an exploration of historical performance practice. With the Choir, he gave many innovative concerts and made numerous recordings for Argo/Decca, mainly of 17th- and 19th-century repertoire. Such performances were at first accompanied by the London Baroque Players, but as the period of rediscovery moved forward, the ensemble became the London Classical Players. When Norrington reached the era of the symphony in his researches, the London Classical Players took on a life of its own and the Schütz Choir went into semi-retirement.
The London Classical Players leapt to world-wide renown with Norrington’s dramatic performances of the Beethoven symphonies on period instruments. The recordings (recently reissued on the Virgin Classics Veritas label) won prizes in the United Kingdom, Germany, Belgium, and the United States, and are still among the most sought-after readings of modern times. The group’s most recent recordings, of the Brahms symphonies, as well as music by Wagner, Bruckner, and Smetana, have extended the boundaries of historical performance almost to the era of living memory. Norrington now has a major contract with Decca, but he also records for Sony and BMG, as well as EMI and Virgin Classics.
Norrington’s work on scores, on sound, on orchestra size, seating, and playing style has had a profound effect on the way 19th-century music is now perceived, and he is in great demand by symphony orchestras world-wide. He has been Chief Conductor of the Bournemouth Sinfonietta, and Music Director of the Orchestra of St. Luke’s in New York, and he works regularly with orchestras in Berlin, Vienna, Salzburg, Amsterdam, Paris, New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago and, of course, London. He is closely associated with the London Philharmonic and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment.
Norrington was knighted in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List in June 1997 and is a Commander of the Order of the British Empire, a Cavaliere of the Italian Republic, Prince Consort Professor of the Royal College of Music, an Honorary Member of the Royal Academy of Music, an Honorary Fellow of Clare College, Cambridge, a Doctor of Music at the University of Kent, and a Doctor of the University of York. He lives in the Berkshire countryside with his choreographer wife and small son.
Norrington first appeared at the Music Center in November 1990, leading the London Classical Players. He made his debut conducting the Los Angeles Philharmonic in two weeks of concerts at the end of the 1993/94 season, and has returned often, also appearing at the Hollywood Bowl. In November, 1997, he conducted the Los Angeles Philharmonic in the four Brahms symphonies during a series of “Brahms Experience” concerts.