Countertenor Iestyn Davies was presented with the Wigmore Medal last night (16 September), following his landmark 40th birthday concert at Wigmore Hall. The medal has been awarded in recognition of Davies’ international standing and contribution to Wigmore Hall over the last 13 years, and was presented by Wigmore Hall’s Artistic & Executive Director John Gilhooly, a long-time champion of Davies.
The Wigmore Medal was inaugurated in 2007 and recognises major international artists and significant figures in the classical music industry who have a strong association with the Hall. The relationship between Wigmore Hall and Iestyn Davies has featured prominently in his career; in 2014 his Wigmore Hall Live disc Arise, my muse won a Gramophone Award in the Recital category, and he chose to perform on the Wigmore Hall stage for his milestone 40th birthday in front of Wigmore Hall concertgoers, family and friends. The concert, performed with regular collaborators The English Concert and Trevor Pinnock, began his 2019-20 season residency at the Hall. Trumpeter and friend Alison Balsom joined Davies, The English Concert and Pinnock for a surprise encore of Handel’s Eternal Source of Light Divine which they performed together on Balsom’s 2012 album Sound the Trumpet.
A delighted Iestyn Davies comments: “I’m honoured to join a very distinguished group of medal recipients and even more so to have this recognition on my 40th birthday. Wigmore Hall and John Gilhooly have always been central to my development as an artist and were integral in giving me such fantastic opportunities at the start of my career. I am flattered to have ever received that support. Though I am of course just a small dot in the history of Wigmore Hall, it means an enormous amount to me personally to be recognised in this way.”
John Gilhooly, Wigmore Hall’s Artistic & Executive Director says: “Since making his Wigmore Series debut in 2006, Iestyn Davies has become a cherished member of the Hall’s family of artists. Iestyn is now quite rightly recognised throughout the world, not least in London, for his outstanding presence in opera and in concert. He has a voice of extraordinary beauty and is our youngest Wigmore Medal recipient to date.”
Past recipients of the Wigmore Medal include Steven Isserlis, Sir András Schiff, Thomas Quasthoff, Christian Gerhaher, Menahem Pressler, the Takács String Quartet and Dame Felicity Lott.
Davies’ Wigmore Hall residency continues on 22 March 2020, where Davies and lutenist Thomas Dunford present the first UK performance of their new programme England’s Orpheus, featuring sacred and secular songs by Purcell, Handel arias and cantatas, Dowland songs and pieces for lute. Davies and regular collaborator Joseph Middleton perform Schubert on 13 June, and the residency draws to a close on 25 July with Schütz, Bach and Erlebach performed with the Dunedin Consort.
Iestyn Davies is one of the world’s most prominent countertenors on the international concert and opera stage, widely recognised for the beauty and technical dexterity of his voice as well as his intellectual musicianship. Now a recipient of the prestigious Wigmore Medal, he is also a three-time winner at the Gramophone Awards, a recipient of an RPS Award and a Critics’ Circle Award and performed on the Grammy Award-winning recording of Thomas Adès’s opera The Tempest. Davies also received an Olivier Award nomination for his singing role in the West End play Farinelli and the King alongside Mark Rylance, which also performed on Broadway. In 2017 Davies was awarded the MBE in the New Year’s Honours list for services to music.