Gail Hennessy was born in Wisconsin in the USA, and studied modern oboe at the University of Louisville before taking up a position as cor anglais player in North Carolina. During her time there she encountered a baroque oboe for the first time, and fell in love with its sound. This, together with her empathy for baroque music, led her to study Historical Performance Practice at Washington University, and ultimately drew her to Britain. She was an apprentice to baroque oboe-maker Mary Kirkpatrick in Oxfordshire, and studied baroque oboe with the late David Reichenberg through the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London.
She now plays and records with many of Britain’s early music groups, including The Academy of Ancient Music, La Serenissima, The Parley of Instruments, St. James’s Baroque, Fiori Musicali and Ex Cathedra, and also performs as a soloist and chamber musician. She encourages composers to write new music for old instruments, and has premiered works by Jennifer Fowler (1988), Roderick Williams (2004), Rhian Samuel (2008), Peter McCarthy (2011) and Thea Musgrave (2011). She teaches at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, the Royal College of Music, Birmingham Conservatoire, and Cambridge Early Music Summer School. Her recordings of Bach sonatas and Vivaldi chamber music are available on the Signum label.