Peter Harvey


"Harvey's performance bristles with musical intelligence, historical sensibility and linguistic expertise"

The Observer

"It is a sober, intelligently thought through, and beautifully sung Winterreise"

BBC Music Magazine

"Harvey, meanwhile, confirmed his status as one our finest baritones with his beautifully modulated singing in ‘Wondrous machine!'"

Stephen Pettitt, The Times

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Peter Harvey arrived at Magdalen College, Oxford to study French and German, and though he soon afterwards changed course to music, his love of languages has always remained at the heart of his singing. He went on to study at the Guildhall School of Music, where he won prizes in a number of international singing competitions.

He has made well over a hundred recordings in repertoire spanning eight centuries, with an emphasis on music from the High Baroque.

He works regularly with the English Baroque Soloists and Monteverdi Choir, directed by John Eliot Gardiner, Gabrieli Consort and Paul McCreesh, King’s Consort, Netherlands Bach Society, Purcell Quartet and London Baroque, as well as appearaning with The Sixteen and Harry Christophers, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, BBC National Orchestra of Wales and BBC Symphony. A fluent French speaker, he works and records with La Chapelle Royale/Collegium Vocale Ghent and Philippe Herreweghe, Les Talens Lyriques and Christophe Rousset and Le Concert Spirituel and Hervé Niquet. His long association with Michel Corboz, has taken him throughout France, Switzerland and Japan. Other conductors he has worked with include Ivan Fischer, Gustav Leonhardt, Colin Davis, Kent Nagano, Herbert Blomstedt, Masaaki Suzuki, Ton Koopman and Bernard Haitink (with the Boston Symphony Orchestra).

He founded and directs the Magdalena Consort, which focuses on the vocal music of J.S. Bach and they have given performances in Spain, Germany and the UK.

This biography is for information only and should not be reproduced.

​ Bach B minor Mass, The Bach Choir

Royal Festival Hall (February 2020)

Baritone Peter Harvey has a warm, creamy timbre, comfortable in the lyrical upper reaches of ‘Et in spiritum sanctum’.

Benjamin Poore, MusicOMH****

Bach Cantatas, Gaechinger Cantorey, Accentus ACC30466

(September 2019)

Peter Harvey’s solicitous Vox Christi in the first recitative leads into an articulate dialogue aria with Nadja Zwiener’s concertante violin (‘Welt, ade, ich bin dein müde’).

David Vickers, Gramophone

It would be hard to fault Peter Harvey’s singing on Accentus

Brian Wilson, MusicWeb International

Ornate Lieder, York Early Music Festival, National Centre for Early Music

(July 2019)

Tenor James Gilchrist and baritone Peter Harvey made it a vibrant, involving recital. Vocal decoration, while often obvious, rarely distracted from expressive purpose. In a sequence of songs by Schubert’s older contemporary Zelter, Harvey’s beauty of tone and serenity in Ruhe – a fleeting glimpse of heaven on earth…

Robert Gammon, The York Press

Bach St Matthew Passion, Nederlands Kamerorkest

(April 2019)

The divine peace in Peter Harvey's (Christ) voice is more than special.

Frederike Berntsen, Trouw

Bach St Matthew Passion, Holland Baroque

(March 2019)

…tenor Benedikt Kristjansson and bass Peter Harvey showed that they have an excellent Evangelist and Christ in the house.

Joep Christenhusz, NRC Handelsblad

Bach: Cantatas

Monteverdi Choir and English Baroque Soloists (June 2018)

Baritone Peter Harvey retains the round, warm tone that makes his recitatives so immediate and expressive.

Gavin Dixon, The Arts Desk*****

…poised solos from … Peter Harvey

Anna Picard, The Times

Handel: Brockes-Passion

Concerto Copenhagen (March 2018)

Peter Harvey (Jesus) and Gwilym Bowen (Peter) demonstrated that the more naturally you sing, the more human the result. They restricted their approach to simple vocal expression, beautiful and decisive, and in doing so underlined the purity of Handel's musical signature.

Frederike Berntsen, Trouw

Handel: Occasional Oratorio

Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin, BR Klassik 900520 (June 2017)

Peter Harvey’s diction, vocal suavity and persuasive authority are all spot-on…Another extraordinary set piece is the verse-anthem-style ‘To God, our strength, sing loud and clear’, which starts with Harvey’s eloquent introduction

David Vickers, Gramophone Special Awards

In the bass part Peter Harvey’s rich and durable voice complete with near flawless diction is ideal for the role. He displays lucid expression and unerring conviction. … Harvey is in especially striking form in the part-two aria for bass and chorus “To God, our strength, sing loud and clear”. It is a precious gem with distinctly attractive wind accompaniment.

Michael Cookson, Musicweb International

…he is fervent and dignified in the glowing texture of ‘To God our King’

Curtis Rogers, Musicweb International

…bass Peter Harvey and soprano Julia Doyle make a tuneful and idiomatic contribution.

D.James Ross, Early Music Review

Bach: St Matthew Passion

Oregon Bach Festival (June 2017)

Baritone Peter Harvey sang the role of Jesus with a radiant sound and a stately bearing.

Marilyn Farwell, The Register-Guard

Bach: St John Passion

Oregon Bach Festival (July 2017)

Peter Harvey once again did a splendid and stately job as Jesus.

Marilyn Farwell, The Register Guard

J. S. Bach: St John Passion

Internationale Bachakademie Stuttgart (April 2017)

...and bass Peter Harvey, who sang the words of Jesus, were standouts.

Paul Hodgins, Orange County Review

J. S. Bach: Mass in B minor

Internationale Bachakademie Stuttgart (April 2017)

 The mellow, deep tones and rounded  sonority of Peter Harvey infused the two bass arias with gravitas and unforced dramatic power.

Lawrence Budmen, South Florida Classical Review

J. S Bach: St John Passion

Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra (March 2017)

In the part of Jesus, baritone Peter Harvey excelled all evening displaying lucidity and impeccable control. Harvey’s rich and sturdy voice complete with flawless diction was perfect for the role and his conviction and reverential expression was unerring. 

Michael Cookson, Seen and Heard International

Harvey imbued the address to Mary and the beloved disciple with real pathos. 

Jack Dhainaut, Bachtrack

Intimate German Baroque (JC Bach, Buxtehude, JS Bach)

Tafelmusik Baroque Toronto (January 2017)

Harvey is a pleasure to listen to. He may be a lyric baritone, ideally suited to Baroque-era music and art song, but he also has a nice, full chest voice. He is a fine craftsman, shaping phrases with great skill, and subtly shading each note.

John Terauds, Musical Toronto

The English baritone Peter Harvey was the guest singer who masterfully played with excellent German pronunciation in the two cantatas and Bach's Lament.

Giuliana Dal Piaz, L'Ape musicale

Handel: Messiah

Royal Scottish Northern Orchestra (January 2017)

Baritone Peter Harvey sang with equally perfect diction, giving an expressive and assertive performance. ... Harvey kept up his compelling sense of drama in his recitatives.

Miranda Heggie, Herald Scotland

Purcell: The Fairy Queen

Royal Danish Opera (September 2016)

Some notable international imports for this production, among them early music specialists ... Peter Harvey ... .
Harvey ... provided the most stylish singing.

Andrew Mellor, Opera Now

C.P.E. Bach: Magnificat

Carmel Bach Festival (July 2016)

All these singers acquitted themselves beautifully... The most authoritative of them was baritone Peter Harvey whose singing and personality reached farthest into the auditorium.

Scott MacClelland, Performing Arts Monterey Bay

J.S. Bach: Cantata “Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott” (BWV 80)

Carmel Bach Festival (July 2016)

Soprano Mhairi Lawson and bass Peter Harvey sang expressively and with ease in the first two arias, the first for soprano solo and the second, a duet.

Roger Emanuels, Peninsula Reviews

St Matthew Passion

Stuttgarter Kammerchor und Barockorchester (released on Carus, 2016)

['Mache dich' is] ... beautifully seasoned and suitably absorbing.

Jonathan Freeman-Attwood, Gramophone

It is a joy to have Peter Harvey, the most musical of all Bach singers.

David Stancliffe, Early Music Review

St John Passion, BWV 245 (Christus)

Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin & Gächinger Kantorei, Stuttgarter Liederhalle (February 2016)

[Bach]'s depiction of Christ is one of deep sovereignty, which shows Jesus standing above things, until his death on the cross. Peter Harvey (bass) .... brought this character and Jesus' superiority in the hearing in front of Pilate across impressively.

TBH, Stuttgarter Nachrichten

Bass Peter Harvey sang the role of Jesus without boastful pathos, but with intense expression.

Dietholf Zerweck, Esslinger Zeitung

... Peter Harvey's Jesus, full of quiet authority...

Markus Dippold, Stuttgarter Zeitung

The Magic Flute

Carmel Bach Festival (July 2015)

Best in this cast were Harvey, an engaging Papageno...

Richard S. Ginell, Classical Voice North America

Harvey steals the show as Papagano, the endearing birdman looking for his ladylove, Papagana.

Barbara Rose Shuler, Monterey Herald/Play Monterey Bay

Peter Harvey as Papageno was delightful to hear and watch from start to finish. The concert version allowed us to enjoy his acting, and his well-developed character charmed us the entire evening.

Robin McKee Williams, Peninsula Reviews

St John Passion, BWV 245 (1725 version)

Carmel Bach Festival (July 2015)

Other fresh elements in the 1725 version include a couple of arias and recitatives that don’t exist in any other works by Bach, including a stunning bass aria sung by Harvey.

Barbara Rose Shuler, Monterey Herald/Play Monterey Bay

Wachet auf (BWV 140) / Haydn Harmoniemesse

Carmel Bach Festival (July 2015)

In a performance of pure beauty, Johann Sebastian Bach’s much-loved “Sleepers Awake” cantata introduced the festival chorale along with soloists Dominique Labelle, Peter Harvey and Aaron Sheehan. Harvey and Labelle delivered superb accounts of the cantata’s bass and soprano love duets.

Barbara Rose Shuler, Monterey Herald/Play Monterey Bay

Recital: Bach and Dresden

Carmel Bach Festival (July 2015)

A short solo cantata for bass by J.S. Bach (BWV 158) opened the program... Soloist Peter Harvey has a beautiful tone in all registers, with even the lowest notes maintaining focus and quality. ...
Baritone Harvey joined the ensemble for Salve Regina by Zelenka, a Bohemian composer active in Dresden and in Vienna. The virtuoso solo part indicates that the composer had talented musicians to work with, and Harvey glided effortlessly through the long melismas. ...
A recitative and aria from [Johann Adolphe Hasse’s] oratorio “Pilgrims at the Tomb of Our Lord” for baritone and ensemble was probably the most dramatic work on the program. Peter Harvey was superb in the vocal demands of the operatic work, demonstrating agility and a warm sound from the high to low notes... It was a joy to hear.

Roger Emanuels, Peninsula Reviews

Peter Harvey’s warm, resonant baritone comfortably took on Bach’s Cantata No. 158, Zelenka’s Salve Regina, and a recitative and aria from Johann Adolphe Hasse’s Italian-flavored I Pellegrini al Sepolcro di nostro Signore.

Richard S. Ginell, Classical Voice North America

Ach Gott, wie manches Herzeleid, BWV 58

Bachstiftung St. Gallen (January 2015)

Peter Harvey expresses [the key sentiments of the cantata] in the recitatives with a clarity and intensity that stirs the audience up; through his distinctive and supple baritone voice the angel that appeared to Joseph at night in a dream becomes utterly present and tangible.

Bettina Kugler, St. Galler Tagblatt

Bach Cantatas : Recreation for the Soul

Magdalena Consort (CCS SA 35214, released Sept 2014)

Buoyant and agile in performance… [a] brilliant disc.

Fiona Maddocks, The Observer ****

St. Matthew Passion

Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra (ArtHaus Musik DVD, recorded live 2012)

Peter Harvey’s seasoned Christus provides an uncomplicated and devotional anchor to Fischer’s otherwise objectivised reading.

Jonathan Freeman-Attwood, Gramophone Magazine

Peter Harvey’s Christus emphasises a dignified humanity.

Paul Riley, BBC Music Magazine

The solo voices are dominated by Padmore’s Evangelist and Peter Harvey’s Christus – both are immensely experienced performers of these roles, and both are on excellent form.

Nigel Simeone, International Record Review

Ich habe genug BWV 82

Monteverdi Choir, Aldeburgh Festival (June 2013)

True solo performing came from Peter Harvey in the cantata, Ich habe genug. Harvey has a lovely, warm baritone sound and impeccable German diction: he phrased the cantata beautifully and sang the low and high passages alike with (apparent) ease. The work was a pleasure to hear.

Michael Reynolds, Musical Criticism

Schubert Winterreise

Linn Records

It is a sober, intelligently thought through, and beautifully sung Winterreise…

BBC Music Magazine

Harvey uses not just his vocal cords but also his gasping lungs, the tips of his teeth and the surface of his tongue to let us into Schubert's world. You're left with an impression not so much of Harvey's 'voice', but of an imprint of his emotional journey. All this makes for something wonderful. I've encountered few performances in which the sound world of voice and piano appear so
close. You get far more detail than usual, particularly at low volume. But you also get tremendous mechanical momentum in the faster movements and a chilling, icy brittleness in those songs that teeter on the edge of emotional collapse - much of it coming from Cooper's no-nonsense fingers.

Andrew Mellow, Classic FM Magazine

a performance which arouses sympathy from the start and never forfeits that rare and special kind of interest which is brought into play only with a sense of complete and urgent identification between the composition and its performers. Peter Harvey sings with the voice of humanity.

John Steane, Grammophone

The performance bristles with musical intelligence, historical sensibility and linguistic expertise. Harvey and Gary Cooper,playing a copy of an 1823 Brodmann piano, have gone back to original sources and examined Schubert's many verbal or melodic changes of mind. The keyboard colour, without the usual "equal temperament" tuning, is light-toned and full of rapid contrasts - an ideal match for Harvey's voice. Linn Records, Gramophone's Label of the Year 2010, produces a sound so lively you think they are performing in your Biedermeier drawing room.

Fiona Maddocks, The Observer

Peter Harvey Discography



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