In 1994, Philip Pickett signed an exclusive contract with Philips as artistic director of the early music group the Musicians of the Globe, for a series of recordings of English music of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The Musicians of the Globe have very close ties with the Globe Theatre, and are in fact, the theatre’s "house musicians." The Philips/ Pickett partnership has since released over 25 recordings.
Recent releases on Philips have included Pilgrimage (Point Music), a testament of ancient tradition and melodies of pilgrims from the 13th century. The incredible chant-like vocals, provided by early music specialist soprano, Catherine Bott are contrasted against the layered landscape provided by Phil Manzanera of Roxy Music on guitar and the artistry of Ben Neill and DJ Spooky. Moving on a few centuries, Pickett’s next set of releases included Nutmegs and Ginger, a collection of anonymous spicy ballads from Shakespeare’s London with soloists Paul Agnew, Joanne Lunn, Roderick Williams and Sally Bruce Payne. This was followed by Shakespeare at Covent Garden – a delightful assortment of songs from Shakespeare’s A Comedy of Errors, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Twelfth Night and Two Gentlemen of Verona composed by Sir Henry Rowley Bishop (1786-1855). Released in March 2001 is the recording of Vivaldi’s Gloria, where Pickett and the New London Consort bring together less familiar settings of two of Vivaldi’s well-loved sacred vocal works, each with its relevant introduzione. The Gloria, RV 639 has been less frequently recorded than the more well-known setting RV 589, though it is equally inspired. The Dixit Dominus, RV 595 has also been less frequently recorded than Vivaldi’s other setting RV 594. The recordings feature a star line-up of artists well known for authentic performance including countertenor Christopher Robson and soprano Catherine Bott.
Philip Pickett researches and plans the programmes of the Musicians of the Globe and the New London Consort to combine scholarship, education and entertainment. His concerts are renowned for their theatrical embellishment with jugglers, fire-eaters and minstrels often parading the stalls and circle as he continues in his quest to interpret early music in its original form.
His success in the planning of major thematic concert series for the City of London Festival in the eighties as well as the Maastricht Festival in 1983, together with continuing enthusiasm among concert-goers and the press for his Extravaganzas and large-scale concerts in the major London concert halls, led to his being appointed artistic director of London's Southbank Summerscope Festival of Medieval and Renaissance Music in 1988 (Pickett's Pageant) - 32 concerts in two weeks, received with critical acclaim. In 1993, he began a new appointment as artistic director of the Purcell Room Early Music Series as well as accepting the appointment as Director of Early Music at Shakespeare's Globe Theatre and the formation of the Musicians of the Globe.
From 1994 to 1997, Philip Pickett was founder and artistic director of the Aldeburgh Early Music Festival, and in 1996 he was appointed artistic director of the new Early Music Festival at the South Bank Centre.
Philip Pickett began his musical career as a trumpet player, his interest in the high trumpet parts of Bach and other baroque composers was fostered by Anthony Baines and David Munrow, who introduced him to all the families of early wind instruments. This led him to take up the recorder, crumhorn, shawm and rackett, and he quickly became well-known as Britain’s leading advocate of such instruments.
As a student at the Guildhall School of Music he was awarded the Silver Medal of the Worshipful Company of Musicians, the Maisie Lewis Foundation Award and the Wedgewood Award. He then spent a postgraduate year studying musicology at King's College, London with Ian Bent. In 1972, he was appointed Professor of Recorder and Historical Performance Practice at the Guildhall School, and for twenty five years he played a leading role in the School’s Early Music Department, training many of the most gifted of the later generations of early music specialists. Many of these talented artists are now regular members of the MoG and NLC. He was honoured with a Fellowship of the School in 1985.
Philip Pickett has performed and recorded as soloist with many leading ensembles, among them the Academy of St Martin in the Fields, the Polish Chamber Orchestra, the English Chamber Orchestra, the London Mozart Players, the City of London Sinfonia, the London Chamber Orchestra, the London Bach Orchestra and the English Concert. His solo recordings include all the Handel recorder sonatas and trio sonatas, virtuoso sonatas by 17th- and 18th-century Italian composers and concertos by Vivaldi and Telemann.
Publications include an article on programmes and audiences (‘Hard-sell, scholarship and silly titels’) for the new Dent Companion to Medieval and Renaissance Music; an article on the performance of medieval music for Medieval World; a discussion of Baroque symbolism and rhetorical practice for BBC Music magazine; privately published studies of the Carmina Burana, Monteverdi's L'Orfeo and the Brandenburg Concertos, and an endless series of acclaimed programme notes for NLC and MoG concerts and recordings. In December 1993, he read a paper on Monteverdi's orchestration at the International Monteverdi Conference in London.