John Butt

John Butt is Gardiner Professor of Music at the University of Glasgow, musical director of Dunedin Consort and a Principal Artist with the OAE. His career began with his appointment as organ scholar at King’s College Cambridge, and this led to various academic and performing posts (including University Organist at the University of California, Berkeley, 1989-97). His work, as both musician and scholar gravitatestowards music of the 17th-18th centuries, but he is also concerned with the implications of the past in our present culture. Author of five monographs centering around Bach, the baroque and the concepts of historical performance practice, his recent work gravitates towards music and modernity, listening cultures and embodied musical experience, music and film.

Having made 11 recordings on organ and harpsichord for Harmonia Mundi (including the complete organ works of Elgar), he has made 18 recordings for Linn Records. Highlights, directing Dunedin, include the Gramophone award-winning recordings of Handel’s Messiah and Mozart’s Requiem (the latter also nominated for a Grammy award), together with recordings of Bach’s Passions, Mass, Magnificat, Christmas Oratorio and Brandenburg Concertos, Monteverdi’s 1610 Vespers, and Handel’s Acisand Galatea, Esther and Ode to St Cecilia. A recording of Handel’s Samson appeared in 2019, which was an Editor’s Choice and Critic’s Choice in Gramophone (nominated for a Gramophone Award), and disc of the month in BBC Music Magazine. His recent recording, of Bach cantatas (including ‘Ich habe genug’) has been exceptionally well received, heading the UK Specialist Classical Chart in October 2021 and winning a BBC Music Magazine Award. A recording of the Bach Orchestral Suites was released in early October 2022. His recording of Mozart’s Mass in C Minor will be released in summer 2023.

With Dunedin he has made multiple appearances at the BBC Proms, London, and Edinburgh Festival, recently at the latter with the new Errollyn Wallen opera, Dido’s Ghost (also performed at the Buxton Festival and the Barbican). As guest conductor he has worked with SCO, City of London Sinfonia, BBC Symphony Orchestra, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Rotterdam Philharmonic, Stavanger Symphony, Hallé Orchestra, BBC National Orchestra of Wales, The Orchestra of the Eighteenth Century, The English Concert, Philharmonic Baroque, Portland Baroque Orchestra, Music of the Baroque, Academy of St Martin’s in the Fields,and the Irish Baroque Orchestra.

Since winning the W.H.Scheide prize for his first book, he has received: the Dent Medal of the RMA together with the RAM/Kohn Foundation’s Bach Prize; the award of FBA and FRSE. In 2013 he gained the medal of the Royal College of Organists, together with an OBE.

Prof Butt said the following about his forthcoming talk

Classical music culture has been the subject of intense debate in the UK in recent years. Such debates are about crucial issues of funding, but also education. Supporters often suggest that this culture is some sort of  ‘universal’. in the sense of something that speaks to all peoples at all times, while others suggest that it is merely a narrow cultural taste. This presentation attempts to take  a middle path that relates it to much broader histories of western culture (especially ‘modernity’) – sorts of histories that are now playing out in other parts of the world, as various cultures absorb aspects of modernity in addition to their own traditions.

John Butt