Richard Sutcliffe (West Chester, Pennsylvania, USA) was born into a musical family and sang from an early age. At the age of six he began studying the violin and later participated in numerous youth orchestras including the Pennsylvania, North Eastern and National Youth orchestras. He pursued his musical education at the Crane School of Music (State University of New York, Potsdam, N.Y.) where he graduated magnum cum laude with bachelor degrees in violin performance and music education in 1996. An interest in history and early music lead him to participate in the Crane School's collegium where he first became acquainted with the viola da gamba. While studying at the Crane School he studied the viola da gamba with Donna Fournier (Temple University, Philadelphia, PA), Martha McGaughey (Mannes College of Music, New York, NY) and at the Amherst Early Music Festival (master classes with Mary Springfels, Alison Crum, Sarah Cunningham, Markku Luolajan-Mikkola and Jaap ter Linden). Further pursuit of the viola da gamba led him to study at the Koninklijk Conservatorium Brussel (Royal Conservatory of Brussels, Belgium, Flemish division) with Wieland Kuijken. In 2002 he completed two meistergrad diplomas in viola da gamba and chamber music with high honors. He is currently completing a doctorate of music at the Orpheus Instituut in Ghent, Belgium where he is specializing in the late baroque and early classical repertoire for the viola da gamba, pardessus de viole and baryton.
An active performer and teacher, Richard Sutcliffe has been heard in Europe in festivals such as the Festival van Vlaanderen (Brugges and Antwerp, Belgium), Les Academies Musicales (Saintes, France), Ars Musica, Midis-Minimes and Le Printemps Baroque du Sablon (Brussels, Belgium) and the United States both as a soloist and as part of ensembles such as Les Plaisirs Durables, Ricercar Consort, Capilla Flamenca, Jacobean Viols, Catacoustic Consort and the soloists of the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra. Mr. Sutcliffe has recorded for radio in France, Belgium and Germany and frequently appears as a soloist for J.S. Bach's St. John and St. Matthew's Passions with baroque and modern orchestras. He has also taught privately and at workshops such as the Amherst Early Music Festival and the Conclave of the Viola da Gamba Society of America.
Believing firmly that every early musician should be part researcher, Richard Sutcliffe has been studying the late history of the viola da gamba family of instruments. He is one of the leading players and specialists on the smallest member of the viola da gamba family of instruments the pardessus de viole. His research has been published in various American and European musicological journals. The subject of his doctoral dissertation "The Viola da Gamba Family of Instruments from 1750 to 1850" will be published as a book, a series of recordings and editions of newly discovered music for pardessus de viole, viola da gamba and baryton (to appear between 2006 and 2007). His research has been published by the Centre de Musique Baroque de Versailles as part of their celebration of the 350th anniversary of the birth of Marin Marais.
Richard Sutcliffe co-founded the group Les Plaisirs Durables in 2002 and has been actively recording and performing lesser known music for violas da gamba. The group was also active between 1996 and 2002 under the name Les HonnÍtes Curieux. He is currently based in Brussels, Belgium.