Pamela Thorby


Historical Performance - Recorder

Recitalist and soloist with groups such as the Dunedin Consort, English Concert and La Serenissima

Dozens of recordings across all genres including solo recorder works, chamber ensembles, contemporary jazz fusion and full orchestra

Described recently by BBC Radio 3 as ‘the queen of the recorder’ Pamela is unique amongst recorder players in the breadth and variety of her work and is widely regarded as the UK’s most stylish and creative recorder virtuoso. She can be heard on numerous recordings of music ranging from the medieval period to the present day and has toured internationally as concerto soloist, chamber musician and orchestral principal. She appears in recital and as soloist with leading ensembles such as the Dunedin Consort, English Concert, La Serenissima and Concerto Caledonia.

Pamela has recently recorded Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos II and IV with John Butt’s Dunedin Consort and features on the newly released Deo gracias Anglia by Alamire of Medieval English Carols and appears as soloist with virtuoso bassoonist Peter Whelan on La Serenissima’s CD of Vivaldi Concertos entitled Gods, Emperors and Angels.

Future recordings include a duo album with jazz pianist Huw Warren, Bach sonatas with harpsichordist Richard Egarr and Fasch concertos and sonatas with Peter Whelan.

Pamela’s ability to assimilate many styles of music and love of improvisation have led to work with leading jazz, folk and pop artists and her playing can be heard on many film soundtracks. She features on recording and touring projects with artists as diverse as the Perfect Houseplants, jazz pianist Huw Warren, Karl Jenkins’ hugely successful crossover Adiemus albums, Kiri sings Karl with Kiri te Kanawa and an album of her own folk/jazz-inspired compositions entitled Ammonite. Pamela is featured on the album Revenge of the Folksingers with Concerto Caledonia and the new Purcell’s Revenge album which brings together improvisers and songwriters from diverse musical backgrounds under the direction of David McGuinness.

Pamela was the driving force behind the much-admired quartet the Palladian Ensemble. They toured worldwide, performing over 1000 concerts over 16 years and recording ten acclaimed albums for LINN Records, which garnered seven prestigious Diapason D’Or awards. Solo recordings on LINN are Baroque Recorder Concertos with Sonnerie, led by Monica Huggett, (Gramophone Critic’s Choice), Handel Recorder Sonatas with Richard Egarr (BBC Music Magazine Chamber Music Disc of the Month and a Gramophone Critic’s Choice), Garden of Early Delights with harpist Andrew Lawrence-King (This is Paradise indeed Gramophone) and French Baroque works with lutenist Elizabeth Kenny entitled The Nightingale and the Butterfly.

As a student, Pamela was awarded the Dove Prize for the highest mark on graduation from the Guildhall School of Music in London and within a few years she became principal teacher of recorder. After postgraduate studies at the Guildhall, Pamela was awarded a Dutch Government Scholarship to spend a further year studying with Walter can Hauwe at the Sweelinck Conservatorium in Amsterdam. Shortly after this, she became principal teacher of recorder at the Guildhall School where, with the support of the then Head of Wind and Brass, Peter Gane she brought the expectations for the instrument in line with those of all modern wind instrumentalists. One of her first students, Ian Wilson became the first recorder player to reach the finals of the Gold Medal Competition and is now leading the recorder department at the Guildhall School.

She has adjudicated for a number of international competitions, gives masterclasses in the UK and abroad and teaches private students from all over the world. Many of her students have gone on to successful careers in music. Pamela’s most famous former student is perhaps Janet Street-Porter whom she mentored for a Sky Arts television documentary entitled First Love.

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