John Turner is one of the leading recorder players of today. Born in Stockport, he was Senior Scholar in Law at Fitzwilliam College Cambridge before pursuing a legal career, acting for many distinguished musicians and musical organisations (including the Halle Orchestra, the Royal Northern College of Music and the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain), alongside his many musical activities. These included numerous appearances and recordings with David Munrow’s Early Music Consort of London, the Academy of Ancient Music, the English Chamber Orchestra, the Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields and the English Baroque Soloists.
He now devotes his time to playing, writing, reviewing, publishing, composing and generally energising. He has played as recorder soloist with the Halle Orchestra, the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, the Manchester Camerata, and many other leading orchestras and ensembles. Concertos and works with orchestra have been written for him by Gordon Crosse, Anthony Gilbert, Peter Hope, Kenneth Leighton, Elis Pehkonen, Alan Bullard, John Casken, Philip Wood, and many other distinguished composers.
His recordings include no less than five sets of the Brandenburg Concertos, as well as the F Major version of Brandenburg Concerto No. 4 with Menuhin and George Malcolm, but lately he has made numerous acclaimed recordings of the recorder’s contemporary concerto and chamber music repertoire, including four solo concerto discs, all of which have received critical acclaim. The most recent (all on the Divine Art label) are a recording of music by the novelist and composer (and fellow Mancunian) Anthony Burgess, the premiere album devoted to the music of Roy Heaton Smith, and a disc in memory of Alfred Deller (a good friend) with James Bowman and Robin Blaze, including music by Blow, Handel, Tippett and Fricker.
In the last few years he has played in Germany, Switzerland, Poland, France, New Zealand, Japan and the USA, and given many recitals on Radio 3 with pianist Peter Lawson. In all, he has given the first performances of over 500 works for the recorder, with works by many non-British composers, including Leonard Bernstein, Ned Rorem, Peter Sculthorpe, Douglas Lilburn, Petr Eben and Ruth Zechlin. Many of the works he has premiered have now entered the standard repertoire, and these and his own recorder compositions are regularly set for festivals and examinations.
John edits series of recorder publications for both Forsyths and Peacock Press, and founded the periodical Manchester Sounds , in response to the perceived threat to music libraries in Great Britain. In addition he was responsible for the rediscovery of several works for his instrument, including the Rawsthorne Recorder Suite , Antony Hopkins’ Pastiche Suite , Herbert Murrill’s Sarabande , the Handel F Major Trio Sonata and John Parry’s Nightingale Rondo (the only substantial known British nineteenth century work for a fipple flute).
He was awarded an Honorary Fellowship by the Royal Northern College of Music in 2002 for his services to British music, and is a Visiting Distinguished Scholar of Manchester University.
Sketch of John Turner by Julie Carptenter