David Ponsford has developed a distinguished and successful career by combining scholarship with the highest level of performance. He is an acknowledged authority on the keyboard music of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and regularly performs on harpsichord and organ in solo recitals, with chamber ensembles and as a concerto soloist (including Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto no. 5) with many orchestras. He has also directed many successful performances with choirs such as Cheltenham Bach Choir, and was invited to conduct a series of annual Bach Passions in mid-Wales. For 17 years he was Associate Lecturer at Cardiff University, during which time he gave lectures in Performance Practice, Notation & Editing, and conducted both Cardiff University Chamber Orchestra and the University Choir. He also supervised MA and PhD students. At Bristol University he taught organ and harpsichord, and has delivered many weekend courses on Baroque music at Madingley Hall, University of Cambridge. He is often invited to play and teach on courses, including those run by The Royal College of Organists. In September 2021, he was appointed as an organ teacher at the Royal Academy of Music.
In performing and teaching he aims to combine executant skill with intellectual understanding, to bring the music alive with authority and meaning.
Following the publication of his book ‘French Organ Music in the Reign of Louis XIV’ (Cambridge University Press, 2011; paperback edition, 2016), he is currently recording a series of CDs for Nimbus Records of French Baroque organ repertoire on historic French organs. The first seven CDs have now been released and have met with critical acclaim. Other recordings include Bach’s complete violin sonatas with Jacqueline Ross for ASV, ‘Parthenia’ (1612) for Riverrun, J. S. Bach’s Clavierübung Part 3 for Guild, the complete Handel recorder sonatas with Alan Davis for Guild, and a recital of early seventeenth-century English songs and keyboard music with his son, Simon Ponsford (countertenor) for Nimbus.
David held the Greenwood Exhibition at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, and while there served as Organ Scholar and became a Fellow of the Royal College of Organists. He was extremely fortunate to be able to study organ with Peter Hurford, Lionel Rogg and Piet Kee, and harpsichord with Kenneth Gilbert and Gustav Leonhardt. On graduating from Cambridge, he was appointed Assistant Organist at Wells Cathedral. Later, he studied for a PhD on performance practice in French Baroque organ music with Professor Peter Williams.
In recent years, David has given concerts in Singapore, Poland, Germany, France, New York and Montreal, in addition to those in the UK such as organ recitals at King’s College, Cambridge, Westminster Abbey, Westminster Cathedral and the London Oratory, and harpsichord recitals in the Purcell Room, London, as well as various festivals. As a continuo player, he has played with many of the major UK chamber orchestras and choral societies. With Ex Cathedra he appeared in festivals in Belgium, France, Finland, the BBC Proms, and made recordings on the ASV and Hyperion labels.
David has been Publications Officer for the British Institute of Organ Studies, and together with Anne Page founded the Cambridge Academy of Organ Studies. His edition of Biber’s Mystery Sonatas was published in 2007 by Ut Orpheus, Bologna, after a BBC broadcast of these pieces with Baroque violinist Micaela Comberti. In 2019, his edition of Nicolas de Grigny's Premier livre d'orgue was published by Ut Orpheus, Bologna.
David is committed to continuing to perform, research and teach in order to bring a greater understanding of the music to as wide an audience as possible.