Laurence Perkins was born in 1954, and studied in Manchester at the Royal Northern College of Music with the Hallé Orchestra’s principal bassoonist Charles Cracknell. During his student years Laurence became principal bassoonist with the Manchester Camerata Orchestra in 1974, a post he holds to this day. Alongside this regular chamber orchestra work he gives frequent solo performances throughout the UK and Europe, which has included recitals at the Wigmore Hall and the Purcell Room in London, live broadcast performances for BBC Radio 3 and Classic FM, a recital in Prague, and concertos with the English Chamber Orchestra (at St. John’s, Smith Square) and Manchester Camerata as well as numerous European orchestras.
His solo CDs include recordings for the Hyperion label. A disc of concertos by Mozart and Weber with Manchester Camerata conducted by Douglas Boyd (released in January 2002) received outstanding critical acclaim in the national press and a five-star rating in the BBC Music Magazine. (The Mozart Concerto was a recommended version on BBC Radio 3’s ‘CD Review’ programme in June 2004.) His collection of shorter, lighter repertoire entitled “The Playful Pachyderm”, with the New London Orchestra conducted by Ronald Corp, was released in 2004 to similar critical acclaim (including a Christmas choice by David Mellor in the Mail on Sunday in December 2004). Other commercial recordings include an award-winning recital album “L’après-midi d’un dinosaur” for Hyperion in 1982 with pianist Michael Hancock (this CD is no longer available), and solo and chamber recordings for IMP/Pickwick and the Clarinet Classics label.
Works written for Laurence include a Sonata for bassoon and piano by Richard Rodney Bennett, a Concerto for bassoon and orchestra entitled ‘Catalonia’ by Paul Reade, a Suite by Gerald Busby, and a solo work by Olov Franzén entitled ‘Il Dimenticato’. Two unaccompanied pieces by David Bedford and Robin Walker were composed for Laurence’s concert presentation “As far as the eye can see . . .” which takes the form of a journey through the hills and mountains of Britain and Ireland in unaccompanied melody and classic poetry and prose.
Laurence is Director of Wind Chamber Music at the Dartington International Summer School in Devon, where he also takes the bassoon classes each year for students at elementary, intermediate or advanced levels. He also runs ‘Wind Serenades’ – courses for amateur woodwind and horn players in the UK (www.windserenades.co.uk). His bassoon teaching posts include the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester and the University of York. He has also given bassoon master classes in Eastern Europe at music conservatoires in Minsk, Lvov and Kiev. Laurence is involved on a regular basis in the educational work with Manchester Camerata, and gives schools presentations during solo recital and concerto tours.
His other activities include musical relaxation sessions with cancer patients (using the bassoon as the musical focus), hill-walking in remote areas and landscape photography.