The American harpsichordist, organist, and conductor, Eric J. Milnes, was brought up on Long Island, and obtained undergraduate and graduate degrees in music at Columbia College and Columbia University in New York repectively, and the Juilliard School of Music in New York City.
Eric Milnes has been critically acclaimed throughout North America, Asia and Europe as one of the most dynamic and compelling directors and keyboard artists of his generation. He has been hailed as one of this country's brightest talents in the early music field, particularly in the period instruments movement. His imaginative and energized performances have been applauded at the Utrecht, Bremen, Regensburg, Lufthansa, Potsdam, Passau, Boston, Mostly Mozart, Montréal, Vancouver, Ottawa, Toronto, Berkeley, Santa Fe and San Francisco Early Music Festivals, and in performances in every major North American and European center (including Germany, Austria, Great Britain, Belgium, The Netherlands, Switzerland, Scandinavia and Poland).
Since 1982, Eric J. Milnes has been the Director of Music at St. John's of Lattingtown, an Episcopal church. Under his direction, the St. John's Choir has become one of the most highly regarded performing organizations in the New York area, known for upholding a tradition of Anglican church music of all eras.
Eric J. Milnesí frequent appearances with the Portland Baroque Orchestra led to the creation of a new ensemble. It was his controversial decision to present George Frideric Handel's Messiah with 50 voices (Portland had gotten used to the sound of 24 Baroque specialist singers in Portland Baroque Orchestra performances of the masterpiece); that was the first step to the founding of the Trinity Consort (Portland, Orgeon). The performance was resoundingly received, not as a return to the Romantic thickness and heaviness that was long associated with Messiah, but as a large-scale choral-orchestral performance with a seemingly genuine Baroque sound. John Strege, director of music for Portland's Trinity Cathedral, heard Milnes' rehearsals. Milnes created a similar experience the next year, with J.S. Bach's St. Matthew Passion (BWV 244). Strege asked Milnes to write down the personnel of his "Baroque dream orchestra." Strege then surprised Milnes, by committing to raising the money to assemble this musical dream team, bringing in top players from the early music movement's centres in Europe, the San Francisco area, the Pacific Northwest, and the East Coast. Milnes planned to concentrate on large-scale, usually religious, choral-orchestral works of the Baroque and Classical periods, and thus complement, rather than compete with, the long-established Portland Baroque Orchestra (which is more oriented towards secular instrumental music).
Eric J. Milnes is the Director of New York Baroque and the Artistic Consultant to the New York Collegium and has been the Director of Toronto's Musica Divina. He has also conducted The Northwest Chamber Orchestra (Seattle), I Cantori di New York, Les Boreades de Montréal, La Bande Montréal Baroque, Les Voix Baroque, Montréal, and The National Symphony of Santiago, Chile. He has conducted in Germany, Austria, Britain, Belgium, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Norway, and Poland.
In addition to his conducting, Eric J. Milnes plays harpsichord and organ as a soloist and is a member of the period instrumental quartet Les Boreades of Montreal. He has played at the Boston Baroque Music Festival, the Connecticut Early Music Festival, the New England Bach Festival, the Passau Festival in Austria, the Santa Fe Festival, the Utrecht Festival, the Bergen (Norway) Festival, the Berkeley Festival, Tanglewood, and the Portland Baroque Festival. As harpsichordist and organist, he has recorded and/or performed with Gustav Leonhardt, Reinhard Goebel, Fabio Biondi, Christophe Rousset, Martin Gester, Andrew Parrott, Manfredo Kraemer, Wieland Kuikjen, Barthold Kuikjen, Les Voix Humaines, and ensembles across North America.
In recent seasons , Eric J. Milnes has directed J.S. Bachís St. Matthew Passion (BWV 244) in Santiago Chile, G.F. Handelís Messiah in Portland, Oregon, Monteverdiís Ullise, and Monteverdiís Orfeo, in staged productions at the Montreal Festival Baroque, conducts the Trinity Wall Street Choir and Ensemble Rebel in New York, conducts J.S. Bachís St. Matthew Passion (BWV 244), St. John Passion (BWV 245), B minor Mass (BWV 232), G.F. Handelís Messiah, Mozartís Requiem, Monteverdiís Vespers and G.F. Handelís Israel in Egypt for the Trinity Consort in Oregon, and performances of J.S. Bach and Marais at the Lameque Festival. Recent tours has him performing throughout France, Germany, Japan and China, as well as North America.
Eric J. Milnes records regularly for PGM Recordings, ATMA Classique, Koch International, and Newport Classic labels. Recordings under his direction include Hebrew Motets of Salamone Rossi, vocal cantatas of Barbara Strozzi, sacred music of Heinrich Schütz, vocal chamber music of Ristori from Dresden, George Frideric Handelís Acis and Galatea, Mozartís Requiem, G.F. Handelís Messiah and Israel in Egypt, Monteverdiís Vespers, J.S. Bachís B minor Mass (BWV 232) and St. John Passion (BWV 245). For the Montréal label ATMA Classique, he is directing the recording of the complete Bach Sacred Cantatas, the first in Surround Sound Audio. His performances and recordings with Ensemble Rebel, Les Boreades de Montreal, Portland Baroque Orchestra and New York Baroque are regularly heard on NPR and European national broadcasts. His recent releaese is Nouveaux Brandebourgeois 7-12, Bach Concertos, constructed from Cantata movements, by the late musicologist Bruce Haynes (ATMA Classique, 2012).
Eric J. Milnes has taught at the Juilliard School, Hofstra University, the State University of New York at Stony Brook, the Musikkonservatorium (State Conservatory) of Oslo, Norway, and the Bergen Conservatory, Norway. A composer, his sacred music is published by Trinitas of Portland.