Monica Huggett was born in London in 1953, the fifth of seven children. She took up the violin at age six and at age sixteen entered the Royal Academy of Music as a student of Manoug Parikian.
From age seventeen, beginning as a freelance violinist in London, Monica has earned her living solely as a violinist and artistic director and, in 2008, was appointed inaugural artistic director of The Juilliard School’s Historical Performance Program, where she is now artistic advisor and artist-in-residence. In the intervening four decades, she co-founded, with Ton Koopman, the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra; founded her own London-based ensemble, Sonnerie; worked with Christopher Hogwood at the Academy of Ancient Music and Trevor Pinnock with the English Concert; toured the United States in concert with James Galway; and co-founded, in 2004, the Montana Baroque Festival. In addition to her position as artistic director of Portland Baroque Orchestra, she is also the artistic director of the Irish Baroque Orchestra.
She is a frequent guest director and soloist around the world, including engagements with Arion Baroque Orchestra (Montréal), Tafelmusik (Toronto), Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Philharmonia Baroque (San Francisco), Columbus Symphony, Norwegian Chamber Orchestra, Seville Baroque Orchestra, Concerto Copenhagen, and the City Chamber Orchestra of Hong Kong. She regularly directs performances in New York of Juilliard415, the student baroque orchestra of the Historical Performance Program, as well as playing with Juilliard Baroque, the faculty ensemble of the program. Monica’s expertise in the musical and social history of the Baroque Era is unparalleled among performing musicians. This huge body of knowledge and understanding, coupled with her unforced and expressive musicality, has made her an invaluable resource to students of baroque violin and period performance practice through the 19th century.
Monica’s recordings have won numerous prizes. Her CD “Flights of Fantasy” with Irish Baroque Orchestra was named by Alex Ross in the New Yorker as Classical Recording of the Year for 2010. Her recording of J.S. Bach’s “Orchestra Suites for a Young Prince” with Gonzalo X. Ruiz (PBO principal oboist) and Ensemble Sonnerie was nominated for a Grammy™ Award and won the Diapason d’or in 2009.
Recordings with PBO include a 2011 recording of Bach’s St. John Passion (Avie). This was followed by a 2014 release of “J.S. Bach Concertos for Oboe and Oboe d’amore” (Avie) featuring Gonzalo X. Ruiz, and a 2015 release of “J.S. Bach Concertos for One, Two and Three Violins.” In 2015, Juilliard Baroque, led by Monica, released its inaugural recording, “Couperin, Les Nations: Sonades, et Suites de Simphonies en Trio.”
Monica lives in Portland, where she enjoys spending time in her garden and plans to buy a motorcycle.
The mission of Portland Baroque Orchestra is to produce intimate and historically-informed interpretations of music composed before 1840 for a wide audience, and to provide broad access and educate the community about the composers and historic context of this music through world-class professional performances, outreach, and dialogue.
Period instruments in the hands of our players make the music come alive. Built at the time Bach and Handel were composing, or built today by contemporary craftsmen to historical designs, baroque period instruments include 17th-century versions of modern orchestral equivalents (violins, cellos, oboes) as well as lutes, viols, harpsichords, sackbuts, and other instruments you won’t hear at the symphony. The music of the era sparkles on these instruments. This fresh and lively historic soundscape makes the PBO experience unlike any other.