Charles began his early music career as a professional recorder player appearing on-stage in productions of Hamlet, Henry VIII, and As You Like It at the 1968 Oregon Shakespeare Festival.  Since then he has performed on Baroque and Renaissance recorders in solo recitals and ensembles across the United States.  In the Seattle area he has been featured as a recorder soloist with the Seattle Baroque Orchestra, Northwest Baroque, the Northwest Chamber Orchestra, Philharmonia Northwest, and at Seattle's Bumbershoot Festival; and he has appeared on the Tudor Choir, St. Mark's Cathedral Associates, and the Early Music Seattle concert series.  Charles holds a Master of Music degree in the Performance of Early Music from the New England Conservatory of Music.  In the Boston area he was an instructor in recorder and historical performance practices at the New England Conservatory and the Longy School of Music and co-founded the undergraduate degree program in Early Music at Longy. 

As a specialist in historical dance music, Charles has served as music director for Renaissance and Baroque Dance performances under the artistic direction of Anna Mansbridge, and notable dance historians Julia Sutton, Ingrid Brainard, and Elizabeth Aldrich; and for seven years was a faculty member and performer at the Castle Hill Early Dance and Music Week (Ipswich, MA).  He also enjoys accompanying English Country Dances in the Seattle area, and has performed frequently at Seattle’s Northwest Folklife Festival with the Nonesuch English Country Dancers.

In 2012 Charles retired from the Seattle Public Library, where he worked for 25 years as a manager in the Fine and Performing Arts department, and later the IT Department.   He was the 2014 Recorder Resident at the Sitka Center for Art and Ecology.  Charles currently performs with the Salish Sea Players, co-directs the Recorder Orchestra of Puget Sound with Vicki Boeckman, and publishes performing editions and arrangements for recorders under the Editions Dolcimelo imprint.

Visit Charles' website at
Last updated on: January 23, 2019
The Faculty

RECORDER, Seattle, Washington
The Seattle Recorder Society
Port Townsend Early Music Workshop
photo of Clea Galhano
Class Comments:

Charles has been a pillar of the Seattle recorder scene for decades and has taught at PTEMW numerous times in the past. We are very happy to have him back on our faculty lineup! For those of you who do not know, Charles is our web master and we would be lost without him!

  • Good selection of music, well taught – a lot of fun.

  • I’ve heard about how wonderful and informative Charles’ classes are for years and now that I’ve had the opportunity to take one, I fully agree.  The music was fun, and the atmosphere relaxed and comfortable.

  • Well prepared, structured class with a conscientious teacher who gave excellent insight into the music.

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Listen to Charles Coldwell, soprano recorder, with Shulamet Kleinerman, violin, and Lee Inman, viol, play Holborne's The Honie-suckle and other tracks from the Seattle Historical Arts for Kids' CD, Merry It Is! Songs and Dances from the 13th-18th Centuries.
Charles Coldwell's Classes:

Shakespeare’s Music
Intermediate & upper-intermediate recorders and viols welcome, with possible vocal opportunities
Shakespeare’s plays are riddled with songs and popular musical references. We will focus mostly on songs and music likely performed in the plays, or surviving versions that are contemporary with Shakespeare’s productions, and explore the roles they filled within the plays.  These include It was a Lover and His Lasse, When Griping Grief, Where the Bee Sucks, Heart’s Ease, and Full Fathom Five.  We will play part-song or instrumental versions from that time, or versions reconstructed from the original lute tablatures, as well as a few pieces from later eras inspired by Shakespeare’s works and words.