Lutenist Benjamin Narvey is known for his engaging and versatile performances on 16th, 17th and 18th century historical plucked instruments, notably the renaissance lute, the baroque lute, the baroque guitar, as well as Italian, French, German and English theorboes.
Born in Montréal, Benjamin studied at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama (London) with David Miller, and has refined his understanding of period performance with Nigel North, Paul O’Dette and Hopkinson Smith.
He is attracted to many early repertories, particularly French and German solo music for the baroque lute, Vivaldi’s lute concerti, early-Italian monody, English lute song, French Airs de cour, and of course, opera.
Benjamin can be heard frequently as a solo, chamber and principal orchestral lutenist in international concert venues such as the Opéra de Paris, the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, the Opéra Royal de Versailles, the Teatro Argentina of Rome, the Teatro Real de Madrid, the Royal Albert Hall, Wigmore Hall, Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center, and also at important festivals such as the BBC Proms, London Handel Festival, Aldeburgh Festival, Brighton Early Music Festival, Festival d’Ambronay, Festival de Rocamadour, Festival de Sablé, Festival de la Chaise-Dieu, Festival Radio France Montpellier, Leipzig Bachfest, Festival de Musica Antigua Ubeda y Baeza, FEMAS, Anima Mundi, Valletta International Baroque Festival, and the Vancouver Early Music Festival. He also collaborates regularly with the Haydneum (Hungarian Centre for Early Music) and the Centre de Musique Baroque de Versailles (CMBV).
As a soloist Benjamin regularly performs solo lute recitals and lute concerti with orchestra. He is also frequently in demand as a continuist, and has worked with leading ensembles such as Akadêmia, Amarillis, Les Ambassadeurs – La Grande Ecurie, La Chapelle Rhénane, Le Concert de la Loge, Le Concert Spirituel, the English Baroque Soloists, Les Folies Françoises, Fuoco e Cenere, Ensemble Il Caravaggio, Ensemble Marguerite Louise, the Monteverdi Choir & Orchestra, Les Ombres, Les Paladins, the Purcell Choir & Orfeo Orchestra and La Symphonie du Marais.
He has had the privilege of performing with artists such as Paul Agnew, Emőke Baráth, Marie-Claude Chappuis, Jay Bernfeld, Margaux Blanchard, Julien Chauvin, Patrick Cohën-Akenine, Jérôme Correas, Christian Curnyn, Camille Delaforge, Cyrille Dubois, Sir John Eliot Gardiner, Benoît Haller, Claire Debono, Emiliano Gonzalez Toro, Andrew Lawrence-King, Claire Lefilliâtre, Philippe Jaroussky, Gaétan Jarry, Ton Koopman, Alexis Kossenko, Tami Krausz, Françoise Lasserre, Sir Roger Norrington, Sandrine Piau, Rachel Podger, Hugo Reyne, Anna Reinhold, Lucile Richardot, Sylvain Sartre, Valentin Tournet, Györgi Vashegyi, Mathias Vidal, Katherine Watson, and Kenneth Weiss.
Benjamin has a wide-ranging discography covering solo, chamber and orchestral repertoire. His first solo disc, “Psyché: Weiss and the French School” (Gamut Music USA) was released at the Boston Early Music Festival in June 2017, and a recent collaboration with Jérôme Correas has resulted in a recording of some of Vivaldi’s lute music, which will be released on the B Records label in the spring of 2022. He has been featured as a continuist on numerous other recordings for labels such as Alpha, En Phases, Klarthe, Naïve Records and Château de Versailles Spectacles.
He is the Lute Professor at the Conservatoire à Rayonnement Départemental de Pantin, and he has served as a jury member for the Conservatoire à Rayonnement Régional de Paris, the Conservatoire à Rayonnement Régional de Versailles, and also for the Royal Conservatory of Brussels. He was a French Baroque Tutor at both Worcester and Pembroke Colleges (University of Oxford) from 2006 through 2008, and is currently a thesis director at the Haute École de Musique de Genève.
Benjamin is also an experienced theatre and film musician, having performed many times with the Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre (London), including the production of Webster’s Duchess of Malfi (with original music by Robert Johnson) that inaugurated the new Sam Wanamaker Playhouse in 2014. He regularly features on France Musique, Radio Classique, CBC-Radio Canada, France 3, ARTE, RTS, and he has been an invited guest artist on “The Early Music Show” (BBC Radio 3) and on Radio France Internationale.
He is also a scholar specialising in the French Baroque. His doctoral thesis, “The French Lute during the Reign of Louis le Grand” (University of Oxford, 2010) is the first cultural history of the French lute during the Grand Siècle. In 2008, he won the Goldberg Musical Essay Competition. He was a post-doctoral fellow at the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes (Sorbonne) in 2009, and a fellow at the Institute of Musical Research (University of London) in 2010-11.
The large range of instruments on which he performs includes careful historical reproductions of original period lutes found in major European collections, made by master lutemakers Martin Haycock, Klaus Jacobsen, Lars Jönsson, Ivo Magherini, Günter Mark and Paul Thomson. He is a proponent of natural stringing in gut.