Friday 10 May at 7:00pm, Barbican Hall

Guildhall School of Music & Drama is pleased to announce the finalists for its most prestigious prize for musicians: the Gold Medal. The prize is awarded to singers and instrumentalists in alternate years. In 2019 it’s the turn of the singers, and the finalists are: Ema Nikolovska (mezzo-soprano), William Thomas (bass), Samantha Clarke (soprano) and James Newby (baritone).

On Friday 10 May, each finalist will perform a short programme accompanied by pianists Dylan Perez, Michael Pandya and Panaretos Kyriatzidis, followed by a second half of arias with Guildhall Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Richard Farnes before a Barbican Hall audience.

This year’s distinguished judges are: Guildhall School alumnus and previous winner of the Gold Medal (1989) bass-baritone Sir Bryn Terfel; mezzo-soprano Dame Ann Murray; Jonathan Vaughan, Guildhall School’s Vice-Principal & Director of Music; Richard Farnes, Gold Medal Final conductor; and Kevin Murphy, Director, Coaching & Music Administration for Indiana University Opera Theatre and Director, Singers’ Programme at Ravinia Steans Music Institute. Murphy is formerly Director of Music Administration & Casting for New York City Opera and Director of Musical Studies at the Opéra de Paris.

The finalists’ repertoire includes songs and arias by Purcell, Schubert, Wolf, Medtner, Rodrigo, Gounod, Britten, Mahler and Mozart performed by Ema Nikolovska; Wolf, Poulenc, Loewe, Rossini, Mussorgsky and Rachmaninov performed by William Thomas; Strauss, Poulenc, Copland, Rachmaninov, Mozart, Puccini and Stravinsky performed by Samantha Clarke; and Warlock, Liszt, Duparc, Butterworth, Handel, Mahler and Mascagni performed by James Newby.

The Gold Medal award was founded and endowed by Sir H. Dixon Kimber in 1915. Since 1950 it has been open to singers and instrumentalists in alternate years. Previous winners include William Primrose (1922), Jacqueline du Pré (1960), Patricia Rozario (1979) and Tasmin Little (1986). Recent Gold Medal award winners are forging impressive careers. In 2015, the award’s centenary year, the joint winners were soprano Jennifer Witton, who performs with the Glyndebourne Festival Opera this summer, and mezzo-soprano Marta Fontanals-Simmons, who makes her Royal Opera House debut this season as Hel in the world premiere of Gavin Higgins’ The Monstrous Child at the Linbury Theatre. Harpist Oliver Wass, the 2016 winner, continues to perform a busy schedule of solo recitals and concerts with the award-winning Pelléas Ensemble, which was formed at Guildhall School, and 2017 winner Josep-Ramon Olivé was selected as a 2018/19 Rising Star artist by the European Concert Hall Organisation (ECHO). Last year’s winner, pianist Joon Yoon, is enjoying exciting chamber music collaborations, with upcoming performances including a cello/piano recital at the Korean Cultural Centre in London. In March 2019, he is one of four finalists competing in the prestigious Prix du Piano Bern.


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