The English bass-baritone, Stephen (Chistopher) Varcoe, studied at Cambridge, and during his school years there he sang in the King's College Choir. In 1977 he won a scholarship from the Gulbenkian Foundation. Stephen Varcoe has established a reputation as one of Britain's most versatile baritones, and has sung in opera, concerts and recitals covering a wide range of repertoire in Europe, the USA and the Far East. He is often to be heard performing Bach Cantatas, Songs from Schubert, and Victorian Ballads. His musical repertoire is quite extensive and reaches into modern music. An area of emphasis, however, is compositions from the time of Bach and Händel. Stephen has always been fascinated by the relationship between words and music, and the role of the singer in communicating meaning to an audience and is currently writing a book on singing in English. He is in constant demand for Master Classes as a specialist in German lieder and English songs, having taught at many UK Universities and Colleges. Stephen Varcoe's operatic appearances include Haydn's L'Infedelta Delusa in Antwerp, Debussy's Fall of The House of Usher in Lisbon and London, John Tavener's opera Mary Of Egypt for the Aldeburgh Festival and Plutone in Peri's Euridice for the Drottningholm Festival, Sweden. His repertoire also includes Death in Holst's Savitr, Demetrius in Britten's A Midsummer Night's Dream and Salieri in Rimsky Korsakov's Mozart & Salieri. Stephen Varcoe has appeared with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, the Ulster Orchestra, the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, the St Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, New Zealand Chamber Orchestra, the Hanover Band, at the Gulbenkian Foundation in Portugal, at the National Arts Centre Orchestra, Ottawa, with the King's Consort, at the Festival Cervantino in Mexico, and with conductors Frans Brüggen, Daniel, John Eliot Gardiner, Richard Hickox, Lindberg, Charles Mackerras, Malgoire, Minkowski, Östman, Trevor Pinnock, Joshua Rifkin, Roszdevensky and Tortelier. Recent engagements have included Goehr's Sonata About Jerusalem with Knussen and the Schoenberg Ensemble, Bach's St Matthew Passion (BWV 244) with Trevor Pinnock in Ottawa, Bach Cantatas with the Bach Sonnerie at the Spitalfields Festival, Vaughan-Williams' Sir John In Love with Richard Hickox and the Northern Sinfonia, Webern Cantata II with Simon Joly and The BBC Symphony Orchestra, Schubert's Mass in E flat with Roger Norrington and the Vienna Symphony Orchestra and Messiah with Steuart Bedford the City of London Sinfonia.
Stephen Varcoe appears regularly in recital in England and abroad and is heard frequently in recital with the Songmakers' Almanac and on BBC Radio 3. Recent recital work has included a programme of Finzi and Somervell with Iain Burnside, Schubert's Winterreise with Eugene Asti, Brahms, Schumann and Wolf at the Wigmore Hall with Graham Johnson, Grainger with Penelope Thwaites for BBC Radio 3 and Schubert and with Graham Johnson at the Bury St Edmund's Festival. Stephen Varcoe has made over 100 recordings including Purcell, Händel and Bach with Pinnock, John Eliot Gardiner, Richard Hickox and Sigiswald Kuijken, Mozart with Neville Marriner, Fauré with Rutter, Holst with Richard Hickox, Richard Strauss with Roger Norrington, recitals of Finzi and Parry with Clifford Benson and French songs with Graham Johnson, with whom he recorded Volume 2 in the Hyperion Schubert edition. He has also recorded Haydn and Grainger for Chandos with Richard Hickox and the City of London Sinfonia, Schoenberg with Robert Craft and The 20th Century Classics Ensemble and Stravinsky with Robert Craft and The Orchestra of St. Luke's.