Conductor • Violin
• Born 1953
Often appears with
Monica Huggett has evolved from a hardworking fixture of the historical performance movement to a true star of the Baroque violin, essaying virtuoso works like the Bach sonatas and partitas and founding her own performing group. Huggett was born in London and educated at the Green School for Girls, moving on to the Royal Academy of Music and intending to pursue a career as a conventional violinist. The first time she played a Baroque violin, however, she felt an immediate connection with the instrument. She studied with several of the major figures who brought historically informed performances into the mainstream of concert life, including Sigiswald Kuijken, Gustav Leonhardt, and Ton Koopman, the last named of whom became something of a mentor. The two worked together to found the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra in 1980, and Huggett became the group's leader. Later, both musicians became involved with the Portland (OR) Baroque Orchestra in the U.S.
Steadily, Huggett began to make more solo appearances in concert and on recordings. Her set of Bach's sonatas and partitas for solo violin was named an Editors' Choice by Gramophone magazine in December 1997, and her 2001 set of Biber's spectacular violin sonatas was especially widely praised: "This is a disc that merits the attention of anybody who appreciates the highest flights of violin playing, from whatever period," raved the Telegraph. Huggett was notable for the chronological range of the repertoire she performed; she played everything from Renaissance consort music to Beethoven's violin concerto, selecting appropriate instruments for each. She was adventurous in terms of the concepts of her recordings; Haydn and the Gypsies, a 2001 disc exploring the influence of Romany music on Haydn and other composers, was a notable example. After making guest conducting appearances with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and the European Union Baroque Orchestra, Huggett founded her own ensemble, Sonnerie, in the mid-1990s. That group likewise made frequent successes with unfamiliar repertoire; its 2003 disc The World's First Piano Concertos, featuring works by J.C. Bach, Abel, Hayes, and Hook, was both attractive and challenging in its assertion of a new dividing line between piano and harpsichord music. Between concert tours, Huggett serves as professor of Baroque violin at her alma mater, the Royal Academy of Music. Huggett has continued to develop her career as a conductor with recordings such as her 2012 St. John Passion of J.S. Bach.