The English harpsichordist, Patrick Ayrton, has always had a passion for keyboard instruments, first the piano, then the organ and the harpsichord. He started his musical studies in Switzerland with Francois Demierre. He then studied the organ and church music with Alfred Mitterhofer at the Academy of Music and Figurative Arts in Vienna where he graduated "cum laude". Later he specialized in the harpsichord under the guidance of Ton Koopman at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague. He was a prize-winner at the Paul Hofhaimer competition in Innsbruck (1983) and at the organ competition in Brugge (1985).
Patrick Ayrton has extensively performed throughout Europe, Japan, the USA and South America. He has played as a soloist or accompanist with ensembles and orchestras such as London Symphony Orchestra, Orlando Vocal Ensemble of Fribourg (Switzerland), London Royal Choral Society and The Brandenburg Consort, Amsterdam Bach Soloists, Combattimento Consort Amsterdam, Orchestre de Bretagne, or Münchner Kammerorchester. In France, he is a regular guest with the Orchestre d'Auvergne, whose musical director, Arie van Beek, has encouraged him to develop his conducting skills and entrusted him with the direction of several programmes.
Patrick Ayrton has conducted various projects during baroque festivals such as the Otono Musical in Santander, Spain and the Journées Baroques du Château de Grignan, France. He has now settled in Burgundy, near Chalon-sur-Saône, with his family. In recent years, he has become increasingly involved in French musical life. Among other engagements, he is the artistic director of the Festival Bach-en-Combrailles in Auvergne. Recently he conducted the Chalon-Bourgogne orchestra in a programme of Bach cantatas with the soprano Emma Kirkby, as well as the Orchestre d’Auvergne, in a chamber music programme. In 2004 he founded Ars Burgundiae, with a view to rehabilitating the works of Joseph Touchemoulin.
Patrick Ayrton is also an active pedagogue, teaching harpsichord, basso continuo and chamber music at the Royal Conservatory of The Hague as well as on yearly music courses in Italy and Austria (Summer Academy of the Mozarteum in Salzburg). He has given master-classes at the Prague Academy of Performing Arts and at the Tchaikovsky Conservatory, the Gnessin School in Moscow.
Patrick Ayrton plays the main role in Sir Francis Tregian: Gentleman and Musician, a film by the Swiss author and playwright Anne Cuneo. He has recorded for many labels as well as for various radio and television companies throughout the world. Currently his recordings are published by the Dutch label Globe, and include works by William Byrd and J.S. Bach.