Lutenist and guitarist Toby Carr is known as a versatile and engaging artist, working with some of the finest musicians in the business.
While studying the classical guitar at Trinity Laban he was introduced to historical plucked instruments, an interest he pursued during a postgraduate degree at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama, graduating in 2016 and welcomed back as a professor in 2021. Now in demand as a soloist, chamber musician and continuo player, his playing has been described as ‘sensuous and vivid’ (The Guardian), ‘Eloquent’ (BBC Music Magazine) and ‘Mesmerising’ (Opera Today).
Toby has performed with most of the principal period instrument ensembles in the UK and beyond, as well as with many symphony orchestras, opera companies and ballet companies. Highlights have included touring over a dozen shows around the country with English Touring Opera from 2016 - 2023, joining the orchestra of the Royal Opera House for a new ballet featuring the music of Henry Purcell in 2019, and performing at the BBC Proms 2022 with La Nuova Musica. He is a member of Ceruleo, Lux Musicae London and Ensemble Augelletti, works frequently with vocal groups Fieri Consort and Ensemble Pro Victoria, and has appeared on recordings with all of these groups.
Collaboration is at the heart of his work, from song recitals with singers such as Helen Charlston, Alexander Chance and Emma Kirkby, to more unique projects such as ‘Cubaroque’ with tenor Nicholas Mulroy and lutenist Elizabeth Kenny, pairing modern Latin American songs with those of the 17th Century European tradition. Performances have included the Ryedale, Lammermuir and Baroque at the Edge festivals, as well as Kings Place, London with Aurora Orchestra, and a recording is planned for 2023. Other innovative partnerships have included with oud player Attab Haddad for a cross-cultural concert organised by NW Live, as well as with pianist Christina McMaster for her ‘Lie down and listen’ series.
2022 saw the release of ‘Battle Cry’ with Helen Charlston on Delphian Records, a recital featuring works by Monteverdi, Strozzi and Purcell alongside a newly commissioned song cycle for mezzo-soprano and theorbo by Owain Park, and works for theorbo by Kapsperger and de Visee. Received with universal acclaim, Battle Cry was a Gramophone magazine Editor’s Choice and won a BBC music magazine award for best vocal album. In 2023 ‘Drop not, mine eyes,’ a recording of English lute songs with Alexander Chance, was released on Linn, described as a ‘thing of beauty’ (Gramophone) and was another editor’s choice in Gramophone magazine.
Toby is a professor at the Guildhall school of Music & Drama, specialising in guitar chamber music. His duties include organising concerts, coaching guitarists in a variety of ensembles, overseeing and encouraging creative collaborations, and working in the historical performance department teaching basso continuo practice. He is delighted to share his passion for chamber music and collaboration with the next generation of musicians. He has coached chamber music and assisted with the lute class at Dartington International Summer School, an association which continues in 2023. From 2014-2018 he worked for the charity Live Music Now as part of a Flute & Guitar duo, totalling over a hundred performances in care home and SEND school settings: a formative experience.
Settled in Greenwich, south-east London with his wife and collaborator, harpist Aileen Henry, Toby’s interests outside of music include reading, cooking and travelling, though when not working he generally tries to do as little as possible.