Richard Boothby has been playing the viol ever since David Fallows handed him a tenor viol while attempting to teach him about Wagner’s ‘Ring’ in Manchester University in 1977. After studying with Charles Medlam and Nikolaus Harnoncourt, he founded The Purcell Quartet in 1984 and co-founded Fretwork in 1985.
He has helped to enrich the viol-consort repertory with new music from today’s finest composers, from Elvis Costello to George Benjamin, and from Alexander Goehr to Nico Muhly. He has also arranged and transcribed much of Bach’s keyboard music for viols.
He was recently invited to co-found ‘Trio Aporia’, together with Stephen Preston (baroque flute) and Jane Chapman (harpsichord), to explore radical experimental contemporary music, alongside the more usual baroque repertory.
With the Purcell Quartet he recorded nearly 50 albums for Hyperion and Chandos; and with Fretwork he recorded over 30 albums for Virgin Classics, Harmonia Mundi USA and other companies. His record of the complete solo lyra viol music of William Lawes on Harmonia Mundi was greeted with high critical praise; and later in 2017 he will record the newly rediscovered fantasias for solo viola da gamba by Telemann.
In addition to his work with Fretwork, he now regularly performs both entirely alone, in programmes that include the new Telemann Fantasias, lyra viol music, Abel’s solo improvisations and contemporary music; and together with other viol players, such as Christophe Coin, or harpsichordists, such Mahan Esfahani.
He is professor of Viola da Gamba at the Royal College in London and teaches on the Marnaves viol course in southern France.