Piers Adams is one of the world’s leading recorder players, a much-loved musician who has given the instrument a broad popular appeal through his concerts, broadcasts and recordings. He has been hailed in the international press as “superhuman… the reigning recorder virtuoso in the world today”, “intensely musical and astonishingly colourful”, “in an instrumental class of his own”.
Born on the Winter Solstice in 1963, and brought up in England’s Thames Valley, Adams initially flirted with a career in science before realising that his destiny lay elsewhere, and he embarked on a period of study with some of the leading players of the day, including Dutch pioneer Kees Boeke, winning numerous awards and competitions along the way. But he was quick to forge his own path, his natural performing flair at odds with the restrictions and traditions of the classical (and especially early) music scene.
It was a chance encounter with a group of Hungarian gypsy musicians, whilst taking part in an early music festival in Belgium, which was to provide the inspiration for Adams in the years to follow: this was music performed with unbridled freedom, heart-on-sleeve emotion and sheer, joyous virtuosity – and these facets have now become the hallmarks of Adams’ own style.
Following an acclaimed debut in London’s Wigmore Hall in 1985, and the recording of his debut disc of Vivaldi Recorder Concertos (Which CD Magazine’s ‘Concerto Recording of the Year’), Adams embarked on his mission to extend the recorder’s repertoire and reputation, resulting in a series of ground-breaking London recitals and CD recordings – including first performances of forgotten 19th century Viennese music for the czakan (keyed recorder), a revival of the important mid-20th century British recorder repertoire, and his own transcriptions for recorder and piano in the grand romantic style.
Adams also began commissioning new recorder music, most notably concertos by the Russian composer Vladislav Shoot and David Bedford – whose hugely popular work he recorded for NMC Records with the BBC Symphony Orchestra. These – and the rest of his extensive repertoire of baroque and modern recorder concertos – he has performed with orchestras around the world, including the Philharmonia, English Sinfonia, the BBC Concert Orchestra, the Academy of Ancient Music, the City of London Sinfonia and the Singapore Symphony Orchestra, in venues including the Royal Festival, Queen Elizabeth and Wigmore Halls, as well as in private concerts for HRH The Prince of Wales and the Duke of Edinburgh.
In 1997 Adams founded his now world-renowned, trailblazing baroque quartet Red Priest, which has since become the backbone of his performing career, and has brought the thrill of his music to audiences across the globe – with over 1000 concerts on four continents in some of the world’s most prestigious festivals. The group has appeared many times on TV and radio – including hour long televised features for NHK (Japan) and LWT’s The South Bank Show (UK) – and recorded five discs on its own label (Red Priest Recordings).
In between concerto appearances and tours with Red Priest, Adams has worked with musicians across a wide range of genres, currently enjoying successful recital partnerships with harpsichordist David Wright and pianist Howard Moody. A particular speciality is his ‘Recorder Roadshow’ programme of workshops and educational gala concerts, in which up to 200 children at a time have the chance to perform alongside him in concert. Adams’ playing can also be heard on several film soundtracks.
Piers Adams plays a wide variety of modern and historical recorders, specialising in particular on the newly designed Eagle Recorder – the recorder for the 21st century.