Biography

Terence Charlston is an internationally recognised specialist performer on early keyboard instruments and widely acknowledged for his engaging virtuosity and expressive communication. He has been described as one of Britain’s leading early keyboard players and his sympathetic command of original instruments has made him a frequent performer at collections of early keyboard instruments all over the world. Over the last 30 years, he has built an enviably broad career as a solo performer and chamber musician, choral and orchestral director, and teacher and academic researcher.

Terence Charlston was born in Blackpool, Lancashire. From an early age, he was drawn to the sound and repertoire of old instruments, especially the harpsichord, which he first experienced through recordings and BBC Radio 3 broadcasts. He studied piano and organ from childhood and later took degrees in Oxford and London, and in organ, harpsichord and musicology beginning his career in church music. As a harpsichord and organ soloist, he has toured extensively within Europe, as well as to Japan, the USA and South America giving courses and master classes in Germany, Greece, Italy, Mexico and USA.

He is well known to chamber music audiences and performs and records with many of today’s leading period singers, instrumentalists and ensembles. He was a member of the quartet London Baroque between 1995 and 2007 with whom he gave nearly 500 concerts worldwide, and since 2007 is a core member of Florilegium. Like many a Lancashire man, he has gravitated south but is proud to be a patron and a guest director of Lancashire Sinfonietta, and to contribute to the educational programmes of the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester where he is International Visiting Tutor in Harpsichord Studies. His wide repertoire and numerous recording span the 16th century to the present day and reflect his passionate commitment to keyboard music of all types and styles. His has recorded on harpsichord, organ, virginals, clavichord and fortepiano, and as vocal and ensemble director.

He is passionately interested in keyboard music of all periods and his harpsichord and organ recordings have been well received in the musical press. His recorded repertoire is particularly broad (over 80 commercial CDs on harpsichord, organ, virginals, clavichord and fortepiano) and can be heard on the ASV, BIS, Chandos, Channel Classics, Deux-Elles, Divine Art, Harmonia Mundi, and Naxos labels. For the National Trust he has recorded all the playable keyboard instruments of the Fenton House Collection in Hampstead, London. For the Royal College of Music in London he recently made audio and video recordings on six of the playable plucked keyboard instruments and one clavichord. He has recorded the contents of RCM MS 2093 on the virginals by Stephen Keene, London, 1668 and harpsichord by Thomas Barton, London, 1709 at the University of Edinburgh, Musical Instruments Museum. He recently gave solo recitals in Slovakia and Scandinavia and toured North America with flautist Ashley Solomon giving concerts and master classes at Lawrence, Case Western, the Julliard School and Yale Universities.

In addition to an international performing career, he is much in demand as a teacher. He taught academic studies, performance practice and harpsichord at the Royal Academy of Music, London where he founded the department of Historical Performance (1995). He also lectures for the London centre of Lawrence University, Wisconsin and has given master classes in Italy, Germany, Greece, USA and Mexico. He is professor of harpsichord at the Royal College of Music, London where he is Professor of Historical Keyboard Instruments, a personal Chair created for him in 2016. His extensive collection of copies and reconstructions of historical keyboard instruments is used for concerts and recordings and available to his teaching studio.

Terence is an important advocate of English and continental keyboard music of the 17th and 18th centuries — a reflection of his artistic fascination with and critically acclaimed interpretations of this repertoire — and he has initiated a number of pioneering concerts and recording projects. These include editions and recordings of all Matthew Locke’s organ and harpsichord music, Carlo Ignazio Monza’s Pièces modernes pour le Clavecin, a recording and interactive edition of the keyboard music of Albertus Bryne, and William Byrd’s My Ladye Nevell Booke which can be heard on the British Library’s Turning Pages. He made the world premiere recording of the recently discovered keyboard manuscript of Antoine Selosse and is co-editing a six-volume facsimile series, English Keyboard Music c.1650– c.1700.

Over the last five years he has helped to guide the exciting young vocal ensemble Amici Voices. He has guest directed most of their concerts and recording projects including the Bach Passions, Christmas Oratorio, Mass in B Minor and two recordings, one of music from the time of the battle of Agincourt and the other of Bach cantatas 106 and 182 and the motet Komm, Jesu, komm.

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Double manual harpsichord after Ruckers 1624 by Andrew Garlick, 1998.