Harry Bicket

Artistic Director, The English Concert
Music Director, Santa Fe Opera
Honorary Member of the Royal Academy of Music (Hon RAM)

© Dario Acosta


Internationally renowned as an opera and concert conductor of distinction, Harry Bicket is especially noted for his interpretation of baroque and classical repertoire and since 2007 has been Artistic Director of The English Concert, one of Europe’s finest period orchestras. In 2013, following regular guest appearances for Santa Fe Opera, he became their Chief Conductor and in 2018 assumed the Music Directorship. Since taking up his position, he has conducted Cosi fan tutte, Fidelio, La Finta Giardiniera, Romeo et Juliette, Alcina and Candide. In the 2019 season, he also performed Strauss’ Four Last Songs with Renée Fleming. Born in Liverpool, Harry studied at the Royal College of Music and the University of Oxford.

The English Concert tour of Rodelinda, planned for Spring 2020, fell victim to the severe disruption caused by Covid-19, though, remarkably, a studio recording was swiftly re-planned and made observing the current restrictions and is due for release later this season. The English Concert also revised its planning to include a series of small-scale, highly-successful live streamed concerts from historic venues in the London area. Guest engagements later this season will include Bergen National Opera (La clemenza di Tito). In summer 2021, Harry returns to Santa Fe Opera to lead productions of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Le nozze di Figaro.


Video & Audio

From The Green Room


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    The English Concert: Concertos by Dell’Abaco, Porpora, Marcello, Tartini & Telemann

    Label: Signum Classics

    Release Date: 05 Oct 18

    The English Concert

    The English Concert: Concertos by Dell’Abaco, Porpora, Marcello, Tartini & Telemann

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    Wigmore Hall Live: Sarah Connolly & Rosemary Joshua

    Label: Wigmore Hall Live

    Release Date: 23 Jun 17

    The English Concert, Rosemary Joshua and Sarah Connolly.

    Works by Purcell, Locke, Blow & Gibbons.

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    Handel: Arias

    Label: Hyperion

    Release Date: 01 Sep 14

    Alice Coote

    The English Concert

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    Il caro Sassone

    Label: Harmonia Mundi

    Release Date: 08 Nov 11

    Handel in Italy

    Lucy Crowe

    The English Concert

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    Bach: Cantatas and Arias

    Label: Harmonia Mundi

    Release Date: 31 Jan 11

    Elizabeth Watts

    The English Concert

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    Handel Duets

    Label: Chandos

    Release Date: 30 Mar 10

    Sarah Connolly and Rosemary Joshua

    The English Concert

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    Lorraine Hunt Lieberson

    Label: Avie

    Release Date: 10 Feb 09

    Handel: La Lucrezia
    Handel Arias

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    Bach: Sacred Arias and Cantatas

    Label: Virgin Classics

    Release Date: 28 Aug 08

    David Daniels

    The English Concert

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    Great Handel

    Label: EMI Classics

    Release Date: 01 Jul 07

    Selected Handel arias

    Ian Bostridge

    Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment

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    Renée Fleming - Handel

    Label: Decca

    Release Date: 11 Oct 04

    Handel arias

    Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment

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    16 Feb 20 Mozart: Così Fan Tutte
    The Metropolitan Opera

    “I can’t remember ever hearing this ensemble sound so light, almost insubstantial — and I mean that as a compliment. This music, which for all its sublimity can sometimes drag, didn’t rush — at least not after a bracingly brisk overture — but never lagged, the textures as airy as a June morning on Coney Island.”

    Zachary Woolfe, The New York Times, 16 February 2020

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    07 Feb 20 Handel: Agrippina
    The Metropolitan Opera

    Conducting from the harpsichord, Harry Bicket kept the pace crisp and headlong on Thursday; trimmed a bit, the score pressed forward as spiritedly as the characters’ pursuit of their selfish aims. There was forward motion even in arias of slow loveliness; the dialogue crackled.

    Mr. Bicket has already led Handel’s “Rodelinda” and “Giulio Cesare” at the Met. He knows how to guide the company’s orchestral forces in a style that’s not its standard repertory, and the result is an appealing paradox: both beefy and lithe. The textures have the glinting clarity of a Baroque ensemble, but also a richness that fills the huge house.

    Zachary Woolfe, The New York Times, 7 February 2020


    “Conductor Harry Bicket again proves Handel can shine with modern instruments in the Met’s big house.”

    George Loomis, Financial Times, 7 February 2020

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    09 May 19 Prague Philharmonia
    Dvořák Hall

    “Never before had I heard baroque music played so exquisitely. Everything was conducted unostentatiously, yet rigorously, from the harpsichord by Harry Bicket.”

    “The evening was a kind of imaginary discussion, which some journalists get sucked into when they don’t have another meaningful subject to write about – can old music be played by a modern orchestra today without jarring our ears spoilt by “authenticity”? My answer would be yes, but only if it is a superior orchestra with an inspirational and knowledgeable conductor at its helm.”

    “For me, the conductor was the most interesting guest of the Prague musical season. Let’s hope his name will get noticed by the top Czech festivals.”

    Luboš Stehlík,Harmonie, 9 May 2019


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    13 Jul 19 Mozart: Cosi fan tutte
    Santa Fe Opera

    “Thrillingly executed by the superb cast and orchestra under the incisive leadership of conductor Harry Bicket, this ‘Cosi’ was modern, disturbing and riveting’.

    Heidi Waleson, The Wall Street Journal, 07 August 2019

    “Reconciliation eludes the young couples at the end of R.B. Schlather’s chic yet quirky production of “Così,” conducted with silky alertness by Harry Bicket.”

    Zachary Woolfe, The New York Times, 28 July 2019

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    14 Apr 19 Handel: Semele The English Concert
    Carnegie Hall

    “Bicket, English Concert and fine cast make a strong case for Handel’s ‘Semele'”

    “With period instruments and superb singers, their concert performance of Handel’s Semele was a textbook example of how historical practice can refresh a well-worn piece.”

    “The star of the day, even with so much excellent singing, was the English Concert itself: period ensembles can often feel choked by their own fastidious approach, but this ensemble’s playing bloomed, executing the score with perfect clarity. Under Bicket’s direction, there was a constant grace in their playing, and buoyancy in their sound.”

    Eric C. Simpson, New York Classical Review, 15 April 2019 

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    06 Mar 19 “The Grand Tour” Music of the Baroque
    Harris Theater

    “Bicket takes Music of the Baroque on an engaging “Grand Tour”

    “Bicket is one of our finest Baroque musicians, as shown yet again Wednesday night. Conducting with minimal yet precise gestures from the harpsichord (his back to the audience), Bicket unobtrusively brought out the rhythmic spring and melodic richness of the evening’s selections.”

    Lawrence A. Johnson, Chicago Classical Review, 07 March 2019

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    02 Mar 19 Handel: Ariodante
    Lyric Opera of Chicago


    “Period continuo instruments and the nuanced direction of conductor Harry Bicket invest the musical landscape with theatrical dynamism…”

    Katherine Syer, Bachtrack, 06 March 2019

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    19 Dec 18 Mozart: The Magic Flute
    Metropolitan Opera

    “Harry Bicket, the artistic director of the English Concert, which has won a following in New York for its annual performances of Handel operas at Carnegie Hall, led a buoyant and winning performance.”

    Anthony Tommasini, The New York Times, 20 December 2018

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    06 Aug 18 Candide Santa Fe Opera
    Santa Fe Opera

    “Harry Bicket’s incisive conducting gave the score its trademark pizzazz as well as moments of sheer beauty.”

    Heidi Waleson, The Wall Street Journal, 6 August 2018

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    30 Mar 18 Bach St John Passion Royal Northern Sinfonia
    Sage One


    “Under the direction of Harry Bicket, Royal Northern Sinfonia and Chorus and a fine line-up of soloists moved effortlessly between the Passion’s two time frames, bringing a new perspective on a piece I thought I knew very well.”

    “Bicket started the orchestra firmly, before pulling back and letting the tension mount before a magnificent entry from the chorus, and this pattern continued throughout the evening, particularly in the chorales.”

    “Through Jesus’ trial, the chorus became horribly human, with quiet menace in the priests’ “Wir dürfen niemand töten”, through to a “Kreuzige”, that had me quailing in terror before its ferocious rage. In these complicated choruses and in the simple chorales, Bicket paid attention to every nuance in both choir and orchestra, and you could see him shaping these details in his conducting as well as hearing them in the music. There was also good singing from the chorus members who stepped out for the small solos, particularly Peter Carey’s Pilatus.”

    Jane Shuttleworth, Bachtrack, 31 March 2018

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    25 Mar 18 Handel: Rinaldo The English Concert
    Carnegie Hall


    “Bicket and The English Concert leave Carnegie Hall thrilled”

    “What a great band The English Concert is, and what a wise leader Harry Bicket is. Nary a scratchy violin nor an off-key trumpet; only bright, alert playing with judicious embellishments and a superb sense of drama.”

    Robert Levine, Bachtrack, 27 March 2018

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    09 Dec 17 Mozart: Le nozze di Figaro Metropolitan Opera
    Metropolitan Opera

    “Conductor Harry Bicket led a stylish, taut and efficient performance without sacrificing the lush melodies and harmonies of Mozart’s score. His tempo was just right, with enough variation to keep us engaged, and his dynamic control was superb, allowing singers to float their lines above the music. The complex ensemble singing at the end of Act 2 was performed with exquisite beauty, deft balance and control. Linda Hall, on harpsichord, played with unusual strength and clarity.”

    Ako Imamura, Bachtrack, 10 December 2017

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    29 Jul 17 Alcina Santa Fe Opera
    Santa Fe Opera

    “Harry Bicket showed again why he is so reliable with this music, conducting a performance replete with subtle pleasures, from unexpected touches of texture (he used a Baroque harp as a continuo instrument to complement himself on harpsichord and the singers) to dramatically revelatory dynamic contrasts. His intuition of the right pacing to bring out Alden’s staging was unfailingly persuasive. “

    Thomas May, Bachtrack, 30 July 2017

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    30 Mar 17 Handel, Rameau, Purcell Cleveland Orchestra
    Severance Hall

    “Harry Bicket charms with all-Baroque Cleveland Orchestra program”

    “Bicket’s program of Handel, Rameau and Purcell was thoroughly delightful, with three works new to The Cleveland Orchestra.”

    “Harry Bicket contributed stylish continuo”

    Timothy Robson, Bachtrack, 01 April 2017


    “Cleveland Orchestra takes deep, welcome dive into the Baroque with guest conductor Bicket”

    “Bicket coaxed some of the most insightful and dynamic accounts of Baroque music the orchestra has given in some time.”

    Zachary Lewis,, 31 March 2017 

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    01 Mar 16 Handel: Orlando The English Concert
    Barbican Centre


    “… Harry Bicket’s daringly slow but impeccably judged accompaniment. Both conducting and playing were first-rate throughout.”

    Barry Millington, Evening Standard, 02 March 2016

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    26 Feb 16 Handel: Orlando The English Concert
    Birmingham Town Hall


    “It was performed exquisitely by Harry Bicket, the English Concert and a quintet of singers that it would be hard to surpass.”

    “How Handel uses the orchestra to convey his characters’ innermost feelings becomes even clearer in concert, especially when played with the cleanly etched lines, supple grace and invigorating energy of the English Concert, directed from the harpsichord by Bicket.”

    Rebecca Franks, The Times, 01 March 2016

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    09 Dec 15 Stradella: Christmas Cantata The English Concert
    Christ Church Spitalfields


    “Under Bicket’s skilled direction, the players of the English Concert made delectable sounds in bringing this intricate score – full of ingenuity and charm – back to life.”

    George Hall, The Guardian, 10 December 2015

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    20 Jul 14 Beethoven: Fidelio Santa Fe Opera
    Santa Fe Opera

    “From the moment the Santa Fe Opera house lights dimmed, with a hint of sunlight still lingering above the surrounding hills, it was impossible not to be caught up in the drama of Fidelio… Harry Bicket led, firmly and freely, the Santa Fe Opera orchestra and singers”

    Rafael de Acha, Seen and Heard, 12 July 2014

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    05 Apr 14 Handel: Hercules Canadian Opera Company
    Canadian Opera Company


    “Under Harry Bicket’s superb conducting, Handel’s score becomes less a series of fussy arias and recitatives than a fully realized cohesive drama, and a fully felt exploration of the human condition as experienced through war”

    Catherine Kustanczy, Bachtrack, 07 April 2014 

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    02 Feb 14 Handel: Theodora The English Concert, Tour

    “You certainly couldn’t have asked for a more inspired performance than the one given on Sunday, with Harry Bicket conducting the spirited English Concert and the Choir of Trinity Wall Street.”

    Vivien Schweitzer, The New York Times, 03 February 2014 


    “I wonder whether the English Concert has ever sounded better than it does now under Bicket.”

    Mark Swed, Los Angeles Times, 29 January 2014 


    “Maestro Bicket consistently adopted tempi that were inherently right for the music and for the singers.  (…) he displayed a natural affinity for collaboration with vocalists, and his shaping of scenes disclosed a deep understanding of Händel’s dramatic structures, which are crafted with as sure a hand as in any of the composer’s operas.”

    Joseph Newsome, Voix des Arts, 31 January 2014 


    “This was a high-quality performance on all counts. Bicket is not just a brisk, non-interventionist Baroque conductor. He searched out colour and expression in the inner parts, drawing a wealth of rich playing from the English Concert, and kept the music underpinned with a sturdy rhythmic impetus.”

    Richard Fairman, Financial Times, 10 February 2014 


    “Flawless and uplifting.”

    Michael Church, The Independent, 10 February 2014 


    “Much of the time, my ear was seized by the wonderful playing in the orchestra. Conductor Harry Bicket and the players of the English Concert found a special tone for the piece, a kind of husky harshness, especially noticeable during the wonderful “dungeon” arias in the second act.”
    Ivan Hewett, The Telegraph, 09 February 2014 

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    04 Apr 13 Handel: Giulio Cesare Metropolitan Opera
    Metropolitan Opera

    “Mr. Bicket draws a lithe, lyrical and stylish performance of this great score from the Met orchestra, reduced in numbers and complemented by a Baroque continuo group.”

    Anthony Tommasini, The New York Times, 05 April 2013


    “Under the baton of Harry Bicket, the musical realization, all four-and-a-half hours of it, is superb…. The Met orchestra has finally found its Baroque chops…”

    Judith Malafronte, The Classical Review, 05 April 2013 

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    01 Nov 11 Handel: Rodelinda Metropolitan Opera
    Metropolitan Opera

    “The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra played splendidly under Harry Bicket’s alert leadership. Their crowning moment was surely the soulful echoes and plaints that wove their way through Bertarido’s Con rauco mormorio, with Handel in his most inspired pastoral mode.”

    Marion Lignana Rosenberg, The Classical Review, 15 November 2011


    “To a remarkable degree, Mr Bicket has the Met orchestra sounding like a period band, scrubbed free of most vibrato.”

    James R. Oestreichnov, The New York Times, 15 November 2011