The English conductor and harpsichordist, Penelope Rapson, stiudied at Derby High School in Derby. She read music at Somerville College, Oxford, studying with Jane Glover and David Wulstan. She gained her Master of Arts degree (with Honours) and her doctorate (D.Phil music) at Oxford University. Her thesis "A technique for identifying textual errors and its application to the sources of music by Thomas Tallis", was selected by the University of Oxford for Garland's series of outstanding dissertations from British universities. For a time she held the position of Tutor in Music at St Hilda’s College, Oxford.
Penelope Rapson is one of many Oxford musicians, including Jane Glover and Emma Kirkby, who have championed the revival of music before W.A. Mozart. Her academic activity and practical involvement in music at the University led to her forming Fiori Musicali in 1983. She is directing Fiori Musicali in concert performances and recordings. Designing and presenting all Fiori's musical programmes. Hallmarks of her direction are her skilful blend of known and unknown baroque repertoire, making for interesting programming, and the freshness and vitality of Fiori Musicali's performances under her baton.
In 1997, Penelope Rapson also initiated a revival of the traditional annual celebrations at Stationers' Hall to mark the Feast Day of St Cecilia, patron saint of music. She is Artistic director of St Ceciliatide International Festival of Music, including programme planning for this annual City of London Festival. She is married to Bernard Rapson and has a son Augustine and a daughter Josephine.