"The firm hand underpinning the boisterous score belonged to the conductor Paul Agnew […] there was plenty to enjoy in the musicians’ muscular energy."
"Performances like these must make the genre’s die-hard enthusiasts feel as though they’ve died and gone to heaven."
(Francesca Wickers for Fringe Opera)
"Agnew has great lyrical gifts in this repertory and [...] his performance here amounts to an important and often revelatory release."
(Gramophone, July 1999)
"The performances are superb. Paul Agnew's voice is wonderfully clear and pure, he sings with energy and expression and he's utterly believable as our unrequited lover."
(David Karlin for Bachtrack, November 2009)
"The big news was the American conducting debut of Paul Agnew, the superb tenor known to the MOB faithful in the roles of the Evangelist in the Bach Passions and Christmas Oratorio. Agnew’s more recent ascent as conductor has been enviably swift, beginning with his debut with Les Arts Florissants in 2007 and culminating with his recent appointment as joint music director of the same ensemble with the legendary William Christie.
Agnew largely succeeded in assembling a program culled from nearly every musical era, and yet he still cultivated a sense of dramatic cohesion by adopting a theme of Mother and Child."
(Michael Cameron for Chicago Classical Review, December 2013)
Born in Glasgow in 1964, Paul Agnew learned to read music as a Choral Scholar at Magdalen College in Oxford. After graduating, he became associated with the Consort of Musicke, of which he remained a member for many years, performing music from both the Italian and the English Renaissances, and made many appearances with The Tallis Scholars, the Gothic Voices and The Sixteen.
Paul Agnew began his career as a soloist in the early 1990s, and was noticed just a few years later by William Christie. This prominent early music conductor is responsible for the restoration of French Baroque’s glory. His keen ear for young talent led him to add Paul Agnew to his list of hand-picked protégés. In William Christie’s group Les Arts Florissants, Agnew has sung more often than any other singer and has become the performer of choice for the high-tenor roles of the French Baroque repertoire.
Paul Agnew's biggest stage roles under William Christie’s direction were Hippolyte in Rameau’s Hippolyte et Aricie and Jason in Charpentier’s Médée. In addition to his appearances with Les Arts Florissants, he had become much in demand as a soloist and he was acclaimed in many major roles in operas by Henry Purcell – King Arthur, Fairy Queen, Dioclesian, Dido and Aeneas and Timon of Athens –, George Handel – L’Allegro, Acis and Galatea and il Penseroso ed il Moderato –, Marc-Antoine Charpentier – Actéon – and Jean-Philippe Rameau – Les Indes Galantes, Platée, Les Boréades and Les Fêtes d’Hébé.
With lutenist Christopher Wilson, Paul Agnew has given a series of acclaimed recitals in London, Vienna, Paris and Montreux, and made a series of medieval English songs recordings.
In 2007 Paul Agnew’s career took a new turn as he started conducting Les Arts Florissants in a performance of Vivaldi’s Vespers. He was the first person other than William Christie to conduct the ensemble. His success was unanimously praised by the critics. During the 2013-2014 season, he was appointed Joint Musical Director. Paul Agnew is also co-director of Le Jardin des Voix, Les Arts Florissants’ academy for young singers.
Paul Agnew combines his conducting and singing careers. His discography includes over one hundred recordings.