Jonathan began his musical training as a chorister in the choir of Southwark Cathedral under the direction of Peter Wright. As a treble he performed as a soloist with orchestras at the Barbican, Queen Elizabeth, and Royal Albert Halls, and took the roles of First Boy in Mozart’s The Magic Flute for the ENO and Miles in Britten’s The Turn of the Screw ("Darbourne’s Miles stands in the line of greats"– The Independent).
After reading Music and singing as a choral scholar at Magdalen College, Oxford, Jonathan went on to further vocal study at the Schola Cantorum, Basel and the Barock Vokal programme in Mainz.
Jonathan has worked with many leading early-music specialist ensembles, including the Dunedin Consort, Concerto Copenhagen, the Nederlandse Bachvereniging, Freiburger Barockorchester, and the Marian Consort. He took part in the world premiere of Stockhausen’s opera Mittwoch aus Licht with Ex Cathedra (dir. Graham Vick), which was performed the next year at the BBC Proms.
As a soloist, his performance as The Waiter in Steven Oliver's The Waiter's Revenge was reviewed by The Independent on Sunday as "outstanding", with Opera Now writing "Darbourne's lugubrious performance stood out." Recent highlights include singing as soloist in Haydn's Paukenmesse at the Al Bustan Festival, Beirut (cond. Gianluca Marciano), Bach's St John Passion with the Academy of Ancient Music (cond. Will Vann) at Cadogan Hall, London, and giving a recital tour in Switzerland of early 17th-century English song accompanied by lyra viol. He studies with Antonio Lemmo in Molise, Italy.
In 2020, Jonathan co-founded Vache Baroque ('Newcomer of the Year' - Opera Now 2022) for which he has lead three operas and other multi-artform programmes from the harpsichord. Their recent ROSSI400 project - celebrating the work of Jewish-Italian composer Salomone Rossi - culminated in a concert at St John's, Smith Square, which was recorded live by the BBC and broadcast as their Lunchtime Concert. In Summer 2024 he will be music director for a new adaptation of Pergolesi's L'Olimpiade.
In 2022, he was assistant conductor and continuo player for The Grange Festival's production of Handel's Tamerlano and last year was selected to take part in an ensemble directing residency with William Christie and members of Les Arts Florissants. An experienced choral conductor, he is chorus master for the NSO and has led a variety of projects from the Voces8 Scholars to choir scenes in a number of Netflix productions.
In demand as an arranger, Jonathan’s commissions have been broadcast live on BBC Radio 3, and have been performed at London venues including the Cadogan Hall and St John’s, Smith Square, as well as internationally.