This American tenor achieved his reputation among singers of the Baroque repertory (with a special emphasis on the French Baroque) in Europe.
With many recordings to his credit, he is well represented by the early opera roles and concert works in which he is heard to best advantage, especially those whose high tessitura presents special challenges to other, shorter-ranged tenors. After studies at Illinois State University, Howard Crook set out upon a career centered around recital and oratorio work. A stage debut as Eisenstein in a 1970 Cleveland production of Die Fledermaus indicated other possibilities, however, and within a decade, Crook had established himself in Europe. In addition to singing the Mozart repertory and other lyric roles such as Pelléas, Crook was invited to perform under period performance maestros, among them Philippe Herreweghe and American conductor William Christie whose Les Arts Florissants ensemble had become the preeminent one in the French Baroque repertory. While finding a congenial position with the latter group, Crook continued to perform elsewhere as soloist in the choral works of Bach, Handel, and Monteverdi. His performances in Lully's Atys and Rameau's Castor et Pollux won praise both at the Aix-en-Provence Festival and in subsequent recordings. In 1989, he again won positive notices in Atys, this time at the Opéra de Paris and during a visit of that production to the Brooklyn Academy of Music. In Toronto that same year, he repeated another of his specialties, the Evangelist in Bach's St. Matthew Passion, embarked on a European tour of Monteverdi's Vespro della beata Vergine with Helmuth Rilling, and was engaged for a production of Salieri's Tarare at the Théâtre des Champs Élysées in Paris led by Jean-Claude Malgoire. In addition to the aforementioned recordings, Crook can be heard to good effect on disc in Bach's Passions and Mass in B minor, Handel's Messiah, the Monteverdi Vespers, Jean-Marie Leclair's 1746 Scylla et Glaucus, Lully's Alceste, ou Le triomphe d'Alcide, and Rameau's Les Indes galantes, all with capable colleagues and under expert period performance conductors.