Red Byrd was founded by John Potter and Richard Wistreich to break new ground in singing both early and contemporary music. They have performed at major festivals in Bremen, Bruges and Utrecht, made a number of significant recordings and commissioned several new works for voices and 'old' instruments.
John Potter and Richard Wistreich, often with other singers from a strong early music background - sings old and new music, but always with the aim of enhancing the experience of the present. Its first concert, at the 1989 Musikfest Bremen, ranged from Monteverdi to Frank Martin and John Paul Jones, and in 1990-91 it toured the UK on both the Early and Contemporary Music Networks. Since then it has visited Canada, Ireland, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Italy and Finland. In 1993, it gave the premiere at the Tampere Choir Festival, Finland, of Ivan Moody's Passion & Resurrection, later recorded for Hyperion, to add to recordings of music by Léonin, Monteverdi, Blow and Purcell on that label; in 1999 it gave the premiere of Barry Guy's Remembered Earth, also commissioned by the Tampere Choir Festival. The Léonin recording was the French magazine Diapason's Medieval music CD of 1998, gaining a Diapason d'or award, and it was also one of BBC Music Magazine's CDs of the year. Broadcasts for BBC Radio 3 have ranged from music by Léonin via Landini, Palestrina, Whythorne and Purcell to the premiere of Thea Musgrave's Wild Winter at the Lichfield Festival. John Potter's Vocal Authority has been published by Cambridge University Press, and he lectures at York University. Richard Wistreich is professor of singing at the Staatliche Hochschule für Musik, Trossingen, and both singers are contributors to the Cambridge Companion to Singing, published this spring.
In April 2000 Red Byrd gave two concerts with the Norwegian female-voice Trio Mediaeval: a live BBC broadcast including music by Léonin, Cage, Moody, Guy and the Messe de Tournai, from the Temple Church, London; and music by Byrd, Dowland, Gesualdo and de Wert at St John's, Smith Square, London.