Andrew Carwood is one of the most versatile figures in Britain's early music movement. He is a highly regarded solo and consort singer in addition to being the conductor and founder of one of the country's best-known ensembles.
He received his musical education at St. John's College, Cambridge, as a choral scholar. (This means he won a highly competitive audition to become a member of the college's choir, singing for daily services at the college chapel during the school term and otherwise participating in its activities, in exchange for a free education at Cambridge.) At the time, the choir was conducted by the eminent George Guest.
After that, he was lay clerk at Christ Church in Oxford and Westminster Cathedral in London. He then became director of music at Brompton Oratory, remaining in that position for five years. He became well known as a singer of early music. Gramophone Magazine called his voice magnificent, and he sang with such conductors as Richard Hickox, Paul McCreesh, Philippe Herreweghe, Christopher Hogwood, the Sixteen, the Finzi Singers, La Chapelle Royale, and the Gabrieli Consort, Robert King, and Roger Norrington and all the leading British ensembles, such as the Tallis Scholars, the Orlando Consort, the Oxford Camerata, the Parley of Instruments, and Pro Cantione Antiqua.
He is known for his interest in British music. As a singer he has recorded works by Tippett, Howells, and Warlock, and made the first recording of The Healing Fountain by Christopher Headington with Nicholas Cleobury and the Britten Sinfonia. In addition, he has recorded music of the Baroque masters Hassler and Vivaldi, and the 20th century French composer Francis Poulenc.
David Skinner, an American musicologist who was also a lay clerk, founded the Cardinall's Musick, an early music vocal ensemble specializing most in pre-Reformation church music. Under his direction (while Skinner essentially provides the musicological research and prepares the performing editions of their music), the Cardinall's Musick has appeared widely in the United Kingdom and France and made an acclaimed series of recordings on the ASV Gaudeamus label. This has included complete music of Nicholas Ludford, a series of music by Robert Fayrfax, and an ongoing project to record the complete music of William Byrd. This will be the first integral recording of the complete music of a major Renaissance composer. His recordings with the Cardinall's Musick have won the Gramophone Award for Early Music, the French Diapason d'Or, the German Schallplattenkritik Preis, and the Schallplatten Echo Award. He and the Cardinall's Musick commissioned and premiered Palm-Sunday, by Michael Finnissy, and he is also well known for the group's performance reconstruction of a mass from the time of Henry VIII in Hampton Court. Carwood also works frequently with the Exon Singers and is in demand for giving master classes in the United Kingdom and the United States. Later efforts included Taverner: Missa Gloria tibi Trinitas (2007), Praetorius: Magnificats & Motets (2008), and Byrd: Assumpta est Maria (2009).