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Agnew read music as a Choral Scholar at Magdalen College, Oxford. He became associated with various groups specialising in early music (Ex Cathedra, the Consort of Musicke, the Tallis Scholars, the Sixteen and the Gothic Voices) before embarking on a solo career in the early 1990s.
He is well known for singing high tenor roles in French repertoire, although he has had success in other types of music. Closely associated with William Christie and Les Arts Florissants, Paul Agnew has performed the roles of Jason in Charpentier's Médée and of Hippolyte in Rameau's Hippolyte et Aricie, as well as appearing on the recordings of La descente d'Orphée aux enfers and Les plaisirs de Versailles, both by Marc-Antoine Charpentier; Acis and Galatea by George Frideric Handel, and Rameau's Grands Motets (Gramophone's Best Early Music Vocal award in 1995).
Paul Agnew's other recordings include Mozart's Coronation Mass, Bach cantatas and Bach's Mass in B minor with Ton Koopman and the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra & Choir, Bach's St John Passion with Stephen Cleobury (also on video), Bach's St Markus Passion with Roy Goodman, Berlioz's L'enfance du Christ with Philippe Herreweghe, Handel's Solomon with Paul McCreesh, Bach's Christmas Oratorio with Philip Pickett and Rameau's Dardanus with Pinchgut Opera. He has played the title travesti role in Rameau's Platée, which has been released on DVD.
In 2007 Agnew conducted Les Arts Florissants in a performance of Antonio Vivaldi. He was the first person other than William Christie to conduct the ensemble. He has since combined his conducting and singing careers.
- "Paul Agnew", biography and career at Goldberg Publications (in English) (in French) (in Spanish)
- Richard Wigmore. "Agnew, Paul." (28 February 2002) at Grove Music Online (subscription required)