Joseph Crouch has been principal cellist of The English Concert since 2008, but first encountered the ensemble over thirty years ago: as a boy treble in the choir of Westminster Abbey he took part in collaborative concerts and recordings with the orchestra that also featured its current director, Harry Bicket, on keyboard. Along with the immersive vocal and choral education offered at the choir school came an early exposure to – and preference for – Renaissance and Baroque music. Joe was a choral scholar and read music at King’s College Cambridge, where further collaborations brought him into contact with period instrument specialists of The Brandenburg Consort. It was not only the repertoire that attracted Joe to the Baroque cello, but the role of the basso continuo in the orchestral texture; responsibility for providing the music’s harmonic foundations and rhythmic propulsion seemed to be especially appealing duties to combine with the technical requirements of cello playing, and Joe made the final shift from voice to Baroque cello as a postgraduate at the Royal Academy of Music, studying with Jennifer Ward Clarke.
Immediately after graduating, Joe was invited to join the European Union Baroque orchestra as its principal cellist, and since then he has enjoyed a career that has seen him playing, teaching and researching the basso continuo role in a huge variety of settings. Joe was first appointed principal cellist with The Gabrieli Consort & Players, and then joined Monica Huggett in Trio Sonnerie; later he became a principal with The Academy of Ancient Music and The Sixteen, and took up a research fellowship at The University of Southampton, funded by The Arts and Humanities Research Council, working on the chordal techniques used by cellists accompanying recitative in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century opera houses. Today Joe combines his roles as principal cello with The English Concert and the Internationale Bach Akademie, Stuttgart, with teaching positions at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and at The Royal Academy of Music in London. Joe has performed concerto solos with many of the UK's leading period instrument ensembles and made his concerto recording debut, of Nicola Porpora's G major Concerto, in 2017 with The English Concert.