Michael Butten

United Kingdom

Born in Berkshire, Michael Butten studied at Junior Academy, where he twice won the Lower Strings Prize, before being awarded a scholarship at the Academy to continue his studies with Michael Lewin. In his first year he won the Julian Bream Prize, adjudicated by Julian Bream himself. On completing his BMus degree with first class honours, he received from the Academy one of the Regency Awards for Notable Achievement and in June 2014, as a postgraduate with a scholarship from Help Musicians UK, he became the first guitarist ever to win the R.A.M. Club Prize. He was the 1st prize winner at the 2016 Ivor Mairants Guitar Award, and is a Yeoman of the Worshipful Company of Musicians. Upon leaving the Academy in 2016 he also won the David Russell Prize. Recent successes include 1st prize at Pleven Guitar Festival 2018, 3rd prize at Wien Guitar Forum 2018, and 1st at Leicester Musicfest.

Notable among his solo engagements have been concerto performances at the Malcolm Arnold Festival in Northampton, the Concierto de Aranjuez by Rodrigo with the Berkshire Youth Orchestra and the Windsor and Maidenhead Symphony Orchestra, concerts with the Berkeley Ensemble at The Forge and in the City of London to celebrate the music of Malcolm Arnold, and recitals and festivals all over the world. He also recorded the Malcolm Arnold Serenade with the Chamber Ensemble of London for their CD ‘A British Serenade’. After performing at Kings Place for the London International Guitar Festival, he was selected to tour the UK on the IGF’s Young Artist Platform. 

Having been, for several years, leader of the National Youth Guitar Ensemble, Michael has remained highly active in chamber music, regularly collaborating with Academy guitarists, singers, wind players and string quartets; his musical interests have extended from performing with the Manson Ensemble in Maxwell Davies’s The Lighthouse to learning the theorbo for a Royal Academy Opera production of Il Giasone by Cavalli under the direction of Jane Glover. With the tenor Oliver Johnston he has appeared in masterclasses with the late Robert Tear and in 2014 was invited to present, with the tenor Julian Gregory, a programme for the Lennox Berkeley Society; this was soon followed by his participation at the Academy in a special concert of all Berkeley’s music involving the guitar, which drew warm critical acclaim in the Daily Telegraph. He has also performed with Glyndebourne Touring Opera, at Endellion Music Festival with tenor Mark Padmore, and as part of Tetra Guitar Quartet at the Iserlohn Guitar Festival in their last ever concert.

Upcoming engagements include performances at the St Magnus International Festival in Orkney, his debut at St John’s Smith Square and the Concierto de Aranjuez with Hertfordshire Chamber Orchestra. Of particular interest to Michael is the often neglected guitar music of British composers, British renaissance lute repertoire and the link often found between the music of both eras. He is currently preparing a solo recording devoted to the music of John Dowland.​

“This was playing of exceptional accomplishment, distinguished by a natural warmth of tone and finely judged nuance of expression.” – Classical Guitar Magazine

“In soulful music with hardly a trace of Englishness, he was already exploiting the guitar’s possibilities, and in this performance Michael Butten summoned up a subtle range of colours.” – The Independent review of Lennox Berkeley and the Guitar Concert

​​”Arnold devotees will surely be delighted by Michael Butten’s account of the Opus 50 Serenade for Guitar and Strings, which opens this new disc with a strikingly committed and technically adroit performance of this exacting score. Butten’s playing, whilst thoroughly poised, is also noteworthy for it’s powerful sense of musical imagery, most touchingly and affectingly realised in the thoughtful central episode.” – Beckus magazine review of ‘British Serenade’ CD, with the Chamber Ensemble of Londonp